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Gitt of 
John U. Nel 



Lc monde voit en elle les passions, 1'interet, 1'ambition; il voit 
1'eau amere qui remplit les choses; et nous, nous cherchons sous 
les eaux ameres cette petite source Arethuse qui continue sa 
course, cette petite suite de la grace, plus profonde, plus cachee. 
mais qui existe pourtant. 

ABBE HUVELIN, Quelques Directeurs d'Ames. 

I know that thou canst do every thing . . . Therefore have I 
uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me. 
which I knew not. ... I have heard of thee by the hearing of 
the ear : but now mine eye seeth thee. 


Through such souls alone 
God stooping shows sufficient of His light 
For us i* the dark to rise by. 
And I rise. 

ROBERT BROWNING, " Pompilia," The Ring and the Book. 


SOME of these letters have been published already in 
the Selected Letters of Friedrich von Htigel, others have 
not yet appeared in print. They are now collected 
and issued separately for those people to whom the 
larger book may be a difficulty the people who are 
not interested in the more directly philosophical and 
theological sides of religion. Perhaps they have not 
the capacity, or the training; their way is more humble 
and they want to learn. They are like the simple 
people in the old hymn who say: 

I thirst for springs of heavenly life, 

And here all day they rise ; 
I seek the treasure of Thy love, 

And close at hand it lies. 1 

They can say "I seek," but they do not know how 
to find; they hardly think that they can find. For to 
them religion is like the jewel in the toad's head it 
is a fable something unreal and apart from life. God 
if he exists is too far away, he might as well not be 
there at all; and Christ and the Saints belong to 
another age. Living realities once, startling and filling 
their world, they have no significance now, and hardly 
enter our thoughts. Ages ago they lived and died, 
suffered and were adored. Those things are not now, 
and no living soul can inhabit a church. 

For many life becomes half-toned and pointless: 

1 From "My heart is resting, O my God." Anna Waring. 


viii Introduction 

all that they do disappointing and dim. The deepest 
things have lost their dignity, there is no value in 
anything in life. Their little bits of faith, of hope and 
love are fruitless, all disconnected like the beads of 
a broken necklace that lie scattered over the ground. 
There seems no way to connect them, no power to 
make them of worth. But my uncle knows how to 
connect them, he produces what restores them to 
life. He gathers these beads together with untiring 
love and care. He patiently searches and gathers 
them from wherever they may lie hidden, and he 
threads them on to their proper chain, the chain 
that unites us to God. For out of all our doings and 
cares, our hopes and fears, and loves, he makes a little 
home where the Spirit of Christ can dwell, and where, 
united to God by prayer, our souls can live and expand. 

He "preaches Jesus." And when he tells us of God 
his face is lit and illumined by some interior fire. He 
speaks like a prophet. He burns with his message 
what he sees, he makes us see. As before some tremen- 
dous catastrophe, some sublime grief or love, we are 
drawn into an awe and a worship of God we can 
never escape or forget. 

When he speaks of Our Lord and his Church and 
the Saints, he reveals these for us. They emerge as 
realities greater than any, obliterating all we have 
known. They obliterate all yes but only to renew, 
re-create, and instil in our souls that love that he 
knows: a love deeper and closer than any, within 
and without us, enfolding, inspiring our lives. 

"To sanctify is the biggest thing out." These words 
of his ring in my mind. They express what he was, 

Introduction ix 

what he meant, what he wished most to do. His whole 
life lies in them. He tried to find truth, to teach us 
God, to sanctify our lives. He loved, and he wanted 
to teach us to love. Can one soul communicate love 
to another? 

I am adding to these letters the conversations that 
I had with my uncle during the same period of time. 
(Much, I am afraid, has been forgotten, though the 
impression remains.) They express the same desire, 
they have the same aim. He wanted, as he says some- 
where, to train me "in faith, trust and love of God, 
Christ and the Church." They help fill in to some 
extent the picture that I would like to give of him. 
It is a double picture, a picture of him teaching, and 
a picture of what he taught. 

He told me often, how one trained soul could teach 
another, one soul radiate light to another soul, one 
saint make another saint. "That is the great tradi- 
tion I never learnt anything myself by my own 
old nose." So here we can try, through these let- 
ters and talks, to learn what he learnt; and to love 
and to follow the way that he loved and lived for 
so many years. 

I cannot attempt to describe my uncle. Many can 
do that so much better than I. I am dominated and 
absorbed by his greatness. He seems to me as rich 
and large as the world. I am lost in his depth, silenced 
by his nobility. I remember his words to me about 
great things: "Be silent about great things; let them 
grow inside you. Never discuss them: discussion is so 
limiting and distracting. It makes things grow smaller. 
You think you swallow things when they ought to 

x Introduction 

swallow you. Before all greatness, be silent in art, 
in music, in religion: silence." And so before him 
I must be silent, and let him speak for himself. 

"I want to make the most of whatever light people 
have got, however slight it may be, to strengthen and 
deepen whatever they already possess, if I can." He 
dreaded to strain or complicate people, to mix up 
their "attraits" for them. 

"Leave out all that does not help you. Take only 
what you can, and what helps. Wipe your feet on my 
old hair, if it will help you, my little old thing," was 
one of his first injunctions to me. And "Our Lord 
tells us not to put out the smoking flax, not to break 
the bruised reed and yet I always see this. God 
makes lovely little flowers grow everywhere, but some- 
one always comes and sits on them." He could not 
help it if people were impressed by his way, and his 
mind, but he never wanted to make people grow into 
his own mould. 

When I look at the notes of his talks (very fragmen- 
tary, and only made after they occurred) I am bewil- 
dered by the amount of things he talked about. 
Discriminations on people, things, books, histories, 
movements, besides actual religion and direction of 
life. He touched on nearly everything, and it is 
impossible to publish all this here: I am obliged to 
make a selection. Then there are all his jokes and 
stories, his most curious adjectives and slang words; 
so peculiarly suitable to the things and people he 
describes, and so extremely characteristic one loves 
them almost best of all. 

How well I remember the "whole-hoggers" and the 
"lumpers," the "meansters" and "fusty" people, 

Introduction xi 

whom he could not stand; and the people who asked 
him the same question thirty times. "I cannot make 
them out at all," he used to say with a very bewildered 
face. "They are like flying beetles, first they bump 
into your eye, then into your boot." The people whose 
minds were like slop-basins and those "who water 
broomsticks to grow roses" tried him very much; and 
lastly he used to speak wistfully of those "who can't 
swallow one potato, but try to swallow eight!" "My 
old boot" was a very favourite expression. "Rashdall 
has as much mysticism in him as my old boot." 
Throwing his old boot, or both his old boots, or "all 
my old boots" at the young Anglican clergy seemed 
one of his most favourite pastimes. He used to laugh 
tremendously over his own jokes. 

It was not till 1919 that he began his regular talks 
with me. I sat beside him, always on the same little 
low chair (just as we always had to keep to the same 
day, if possible it had some tremendous significance!). 
I always felt like a child with my uncle, and I never 
attempted to be anything else. As he said, I had to 
learn, and I am still in a spiritual childhood. Every- 
thing was carefully prepared before my arrival. He 
liked me best to knit while I listened. He said 
people always listened best when they did some- 
thing with their hands, more especially women. 
His plan was all thought out : he wanted to try 
and strengthen my character, feed my soul : and 
I was to learn through history, as well as through 
religion itself. "I want to prepare you, to organise 
you for life, for illness, crisis, and death"; and the 
essence of his first as of his last talk might be said in 
his own words: "Live all you can as complete and 

xii Introduction 

full a life as you can find do as much as you can for 
others. Read, work, enjoy love and help as many 
souls do all this. Yes but remember: Be alone, be 
remote, be away from the world, be desolate. Then 
you will be near God!" 

I must often have disappointed him. He was so 
humble, he thought everyone could remember, under- 
stand, and discriminate, as he did himself. But if he 
was disappointed, he never showed it. He went on 
with his teaching with a beaming face. He said it 
was clearly my duty to read "to do a great amount 
of reading, not to become a learned woman. A learned 
woman is an abomination, there is nothing to be done 
but to drown her. No not to be a spectacled blue- 
stocking, but to be a deeply spiritual woman. I want 
to feed your mind and soul; to make you a sober, 
persevering, balanced, genial, historical Christian." 

So we began by reading history, pagan history, and 
first of all Boissier's Histoire du Paganisms, then more 
Boissiers; then Caesar, Cicero, Lucretius, Virgil, 
Tacitus, Horace, Livy, Pliny, Herodotus, Hesiod, 
Thucydides. The parcels came regularly, like books 
from a library, all carefully selected and chosen to 
suit my state, and always accompanied by a letter 
explaining their particular value or beauty. When 
we at last reached Christian things, we began with 
St. Augustine (which he read aloud to me, the most 
wonderful reading, in the garden at Clonboy, Engle- 
field Green); the martyrs, Tertullian ("that great 
fierce African genius"), Jerome. The Fathers in the 
Desert, Minucius Felix, etc. Many were presents, 
selected translations, because I could not read Latin. 
When we got to Greek books, Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, 

Introduction xiii 

he gave me also guide-books on Greek statuary, and 
books on coins in the British Museum. 

How I wish I could have it all over again, for 
perhaps I should understand and remember a little 
more! We were just starting on Indian religions with 
Farquhar's Crown of Hinduism at the time of his 
death. We went through all the English poets, from 
Casdmon to Browning. He loved Brownirig^very much, 
and used to read him too aloud to me in the garden 
at Clonboy. But he was always distressed at Browning's 
appearing to think it was almost a necessity to commit 
some great sin in order to become ultimately a saint. 
"That's all wrong. I don't like that. We are not all 
St. Augustines. We should stay down in the mud and 
the mire. Even St. Augustine would have been a 
greater saint had he been innocent: magnificent, the 
Church canonising him!" 

He never gave me any purely clever books; he could 
not bear them. "We never really get anything that 
way. Clever people never think. They are incapable 
of thinking I have always found this so. Cleverness 
never goes with depth and real thinking." I never 
can forget his indignation when someone wanted me 
to read Locke and Hume. "Why should you, a living 
woman, read Locke or Hume? Can grammar alone 
feed the human soul? Locke is a dreary old man; 
he may have a God, but he is a dusty dim God. And 
Hume is blase. He is the sort of person young people 
are taken in by: they take him for something else. He 
knows everything. He got to the bottom of everything 
by the time he was sixteen: he sees everything through 
clear glass windows. If I were to die to-night, he would 
know all about me by to-morrow. These old bones 

xiv Introduction 

would be all arranged, sorted out, explained and in 
his coat-pocket; but somehow he would not have got 
me all the same." He never gave me any directly 
mystical books, except Mother Julian and Dr. Baker, 
both of whom he loved much. 

In the earliest notes I made he speaks a great deal 
of the need to know history not only religious 
history but all history, especially for a religious 
woman. "A religious woman is often so tiresome, 
so unbalanced and excessive. She bores everyone, 
she has no historical sense. I want to teach you 
through history. History is an enlargement of per- 
sonal experience, history pressing the past. We must 
have the closest contact with the past. How poor 
and thin a thing is all purely personal religion! Is 
there any such thing as a purely original thinker? 
You must get a larger experience you gain it by 
a study of history; the individualistic basis simply 
doesn't work. 

"I hate all the notion that there is no value in 
anything that is past that the only value is in what 
we have got now. That cuts us right off, it gives us 
no base, it leaves out the richness and soundness of 
the great traditions. I want to teach you through all 
those gigantic things, the martyrs, gnosticism, scep- 
ticism, ifchat_aJxQciqus thing the eighteenth century. 
I want you to learn about the great souls that lived 
through all those tracts of time. You will learn about 
progress. People talk so much about progress now- 
adays. Where is all this wonderful progress in the 
human soul? Religion to be deep and rich must be 
historical. I can't help it if you don't believe in 
religion, it's an historical fact. It is to demonstrate 

Introduction xv 

and to explain its growth that Tiele wrote the book 
you liked so much. x Tiele's style is not elegant polished 
English, but he is full of stuff. It is the stuff of religion 
that matters. We will not idolise form; it is the rich- 
ness of the content that counts. The New Testament 
what is it in form? It is nothing it is not even 
literature but it is the bread of life. About knowledge 
so many people want to know, in order to know, 
and nothing else. How empty all that is! What a 
difference in Christianity! 

"Christianity is a thing of the heart, and it's that 
that matters. No other knowledge counts but that 
that feeds and strengthens the mind and soul. The 
spiritual world is a great world of facts, and you must 
learn about it, as you would learn forestry from the 
forester. After five or six years among the trees you 
will know something about them. You are a goose if 
you cavil at that! I learnt all that I know from 1 
Huvelin. What I teach you is him, not me. I learnt j 
it from him. What a great saint he was! and what ) 
he taught me! c One torch lights another torch ' / 
(Lucretius) . One penitent soul awakens to the desire 
to teach other souls in sufferings and dryness a more 
experienced soul can sustain the less. It is best to, 
learn from others; it gives a touch of creatureliness. 
I don't know if that is a real word or not, but it is 
almost my favourite adjective. Your ultimate light 
is your o^/n; but in the meantime you have got 
to learn. 

"Suffering is the greatest teacher; the consecrated 
suffering of one soul teaches another. I think we have 
got all our values wrong, and suffering is the crown 

1 Tide, Scientific History of Religion. 

xvi Introduction 

of life. Suffering and expansion, what a rich com- 

"Religion has never made me happy; it's no use 
shutting your eyes to the fact that the deeper you go, 
the more alone you will find yourself. Suffering can 
expand, it can contract. La soujfrance noble, la soujfrance 
Basse. Grasp the nettle, my little old thing! Religion 
has never made me comfy. I have been in the deserts 
ten years. All deepened life is deepened suffering, 
deepened dreariness, deepened joy. Suffering and joy. 
The final note of religion is joy. 

"Do not be greedy of consolation. I never got 
anything that way. Suffering teaches: life teaches. 
Don't weaken love; never violate it. Love and joy 
are your way. Be very humble, it's the only thing. 
That is why I try to keep my little thing always on 
her knees. 

"Dullness, dreariness and loneliness. East winds 
always blowing; desolation, with certain lucid in- 
tervals and dim assurances. Be always faithful. You 
will find you would rather lose life itself than this 
life. Apres tout, the last act in life is devotion devotion 
in death. I like that. 

"Religion is dim in the religious temper there 
should be a great simplicity, and a certain content- 
ment in dimness. It is a great gift of God to have 
this temper. God does not make our lives all ship- 
shape, clear and comfortable. Never try to get things 
too clear. Religion can't be clear. In this mixed-up 
life there is always an element of unclearness. I believe 
God wills it so. There is always an element of tragedy. 
How can it be otherwise if Christianity is our ideal? 
When I was a young man I was always interested in 

Introduction xvii 

religion, in the facts of religion, and I felt these facts 
to be outside of myself, not my imagination. As far 
as I can see them, they are quite beyond my imagina- 
tion. If I could understand religion as I understand 
that two and two make four, it would not be worth 
understanding. Religion can't be clear if it is worth 
having. To me, if I can see things through and through, 
I get uneasy I feel it's a fake. I know I have left 
something out, I've made some mistake. 

"You want to be truthful to find the truth, to be 
truthful to find God. We can't eliminate all difficulties. 
Some people don't want the truth. They get in the 
train, but they won't go all the way: they get out in 
a potato-field. These people make scepticism; they so- 
phisticate the mind. We are like sponges trying to mop 
up the ocean. We can never know God exhaustively. 
God is simultaneous, totum simul: we are passing. How 
splendidly the Roman Church has got that the 
time-limited and the timeless! We can never picture 
God or imagine him. Either we make him too small, 
and we strain at that,, or we make him too big, and 
he strains us. Let us rest content. We have not got to 
invent God, nor to hold him. He holds us. We shall \ 
never be able to explain God, though we can appre- ' 
hend him, more and more through the spiritual life. 
I want you to hold very clearly the otherness of God, 
and the littleness of men. If you don't get that you 
can't have adoration, and you cannot have religion 
without adoration. 

"I can't bear those people who talk about God 
and us as mutualities. God and us little men! Man 
the centre, and God coming to himself through us 
men! I know more and more how small I am, how 

xviii Introduction 

great God is. He works in us, not by us. We shall 
never be God, we shall always be men. He gives: 
we receive. The given-ness of God everything is 
given. The moderns say: 'Thank goodness we have 
got rid of the awful position of servant and master* 
(is it awful?). God needs us, as much as we need 

him. Canon S says God needs us to make the 

world. I must say I never heard Canon S helped 

God to make Saturn's rings! It sounds rather fusty 
somehow to me. 

"How vulgar the eighteenth century was: a purely 
fAw-world affair. God and the other world went out 
completely. But though you can throw God out of 
man's life, he always manages to get back again. 
Man is both of, and not of, this world; the soul lives 
in two worlds hence the tension. How splendidly 
Kant saw that! God is the great reality that penetrates 
our lives: the practice and presence of God there, 
get that. 

" Some people are so fond of ideas. A new idea is 
a kind of magic to them! I don't care about ideas, 
I want facts. God is not an idea. He is a fact. 'I find 
God outside of myself. He is an illapse from outside.' 
There, that is right, that does away with all this 
miserable subjectivism. I don't much like all this 
Coue* business, all this dwelling on ourselves. Leave 
ourselves let in God. I always think it is much 
harder for a healthy person to be really religious, to 
find God. When your body is a constant failure you 
cannot depend on yourself at all, so you turn to God. 
If you love God, and hate yourself, that's all right. 
We are becoming creatures becoming in order to 
be God is. We are getting to being. Religion is not 

Introduction xix 

man-made: it is immense: it comes from outside. 
Man rather spoils it, but in spite of all he can do, it 
remains immortal. The supernatural life is a life of 
renunciation. If we are Christians there are always 
two notes, suffering and joy. Gethsemane is awful, 
but it does not end with Gethsemane; there is the 
Resurrection. We want the whole of religion; renun- 
ciation and joy, the Gross and the Grown. I don't 
like Christians who have concentrated only on the 
Gross: Christianity is the whole life of Christ. His life 
of mortification, of suffering and sacrifice, culminating, 
it is true, in the Cross. But I can't bear the obliterating 
of his life, that great life lived, the touching humility 
and love. And the parables look at the inexhaustible 
wonder of the parables, how beautiful they are! I like 
a balanced Christianity: Christianity is so balanced. 

"What a wretched affair the eighteenth century! 
I often think of Herbert Spencer, picking up and 
reading Plato at the Club. His surprised, contemptuous 
admiration. 1 Spencer was a flea or a bug compared 
to Plato. The eighteenth-century ideal was the smug, 
comfy, utterly material domestic life. Is that the final 
end of man in Christianity? the decent, comfortable 
married man? No. No. Christianity is not that. The 
whole world would reject that: no primitive Christian 
would look at it for a moment. Christianity is a 
heroism. People seem sometimes to think it is a dear 
darling, not-to-be-grumpy, not-to-be-impatient, not- 
to-be-violent life; a sort of wishy-washy sentimental 
affair. Stuff and nonsense! Christianity is not that. 
Christianity is an immense warning; a tremendous 

1 Spencer was, of course, nineteenth-century, but perhaps my uncle 
meant he was a type of the eighteenth-century spirit. 

xx Introduction 

heroism. Christ teaches a great austerity. He teaches 
renunciation: the life of the Gross. He was not 
comfy. He had not where to lay his head. He was 
no rigorist, yet he tells us to die to ourselves, to take 
up the Gross, to follow him. Is that all comfy? Chris- 
tianity is coming back to renunciation, and to a 
right asceticism and austerity. That is what Our 
Lord teaches. If you don't see that in the Gospels, 
I don't see what you see. 

"It's like fear. Fear went out altogether. It was an 
invention of priests. 'Perfect love casteth out fear.' But 
does it? You cannot build on one text like that. In 
ah* love there is an element of fear; an unabashed 
human being is a horrible thing. Fear is not always 
servile. Awe and reverence, they are fear purified and 
spiritualised. Fear is inseparable from love. That's 
jolly. Fear spiritualised is in all adoration. Religion 
without adoration is like a triangle with one side 
left out. 

"I hope you will never become scrupulous. It is a 
bad thing all round, a morbid conscientiousness and 
brooding. Never brood, brooding is a waste of growth. 
How I have found this myself! It puts back all my 
work if I brood. Die without a breath of grievance: 
religion makes this possible, men have less the spirit 
of grievance. 

"Drop things; always keep on dropping and 
dropping. My religion, my illness, suffering and 
life have taught me that. Always drop things. Don't 
chatter to yourself you can't hear God if you do. 
We need not try to conceive God: he attends to all 
that. We have to make room for him in our souls. 
There was no room for Our Lord, you remember, at 

Introduction xxi 

the inn. In this world, too, there is no room for him. 
Drop, then, all these things, these miseries: not by 
straining, or making or getting strength; but genially, 
gently; while attending, as you must, to these things, 
drop them; these flies that bother your nose, God 
nowhere visible. Resign yourself. That is God's plan 
faithfully, wisely, resign yourself. Fussiness and 
activity! What a difference there is between action 
and activity (Aristotle, God is action) ! People waste 
their lives in these countless little activities and 
fussinesses. When I get up feeling I have a hundred 
things to do then I know it's all wrong. I try to get 
away, to go for a walk with Puck. I leave everything 
till I am better. I would like you to learn from 
St. Catherine of Genoa the point of always attending to 
but one thing at a time. This one action or suffering, ', 
joy or renunciation, being at that moment the one \ 
will of God and the one means of pleasing him and i 
of attaining true growth in oneself. It is the trait ' 
d'union with God. The more full and varied your i 
life becomes, the more this great principle and prac- ; 
tice is necessary to prevent distraction and racket.; 
Goethe's mother, when she was dying, sent down a 
message to a caller that she could not see her as she 
was occupied in dying. C I am busy with death.' That's 
right so I hope too to turn to death, busy with that, 
one thing at a time. My own experience now when 
my life is twenty times as full as it was at eighteen, 
yet it is much more unified and recollected. The great 
rule is, Variety up to the verge of dissipation : Recollection \ 
up to the verge of emptiness : each alternating with the } 
other and making a rich fruitful tension. Thus we 
gather honey from all sorts of flowers, then sort out, 

xxii Introduction 

arrange, unify and store, the honey gathered. After 
which we again fly out on our honey-gathering expe- 
ditions. What an immense activity was Fenelon's: and 
a still larger activity St. Augustine's! Yet both were 
deeply recollected men. 

"Young people seem absorbed nowadays in getting 
their own way. Matthew Arnold says you can get so 
absorbed in heroism that that becomes your own way. 
But you can't have growth if you do what you like as 
we ordinarily mean it, until we come again to live 
for duty and not for rights, to be busy with contrition 
for sin and not with comforts. God is in duty. The 
notion of being comfortable! How vulgar it is! God 
never makes our lives comfortable. Even in heaven 
I believe there will be an equivalent of suffering 
not as it stands here but the equivalent, suffering 
beatified. I feel sure of this. 

"How curiously uncertain and uncomfortable people 
are in Protestantism! It is the Calvinism in it, the 
curious betwixt - and - between - ness. Protestants are 
pledged to two mutually contradictory movements. 
The reforming spirit of Erasmus and More was 
splendid but the strongly Calvinistic Protestant spirit 
is so narrow and thin. 

"The suppression and illegality of the crucifix in 
England is the result of Calvinism. It is like image- 
breaking. Preposterous! There is nothing more beau- 
tiful than the crucifix. Luther had no objection to 
the crucifix the Lutheran dies with it in his hand. 
The cross is Protestant, and the crucifix Roman. The 
Protestant Church contains in Anglicanism many 
precious commitments of Catholicism, but it is a 
compromise between Calvinism and Calvinism's bete 

bitroduction xxiii 

noire the Roman Catholic Church. I love the Book 
of Common Prayer all except the Homilies and the 
Thirty-nine Articles. I would like to wring the necks 
of both of those. 

" I hate rigorism it's all wrong. Our Lord was never 
a rigorist. He loved publicans and sinners. How he 
loved all the beauties of nature, the family children! 
His parables are full of these homely things. God 
nearly always teaches us through a person, he teaches 
us through individuals. Follow his lead. Live from 
day to day, even from hour to hour. I want you to 
learn to die to yourself daily; the daily death is a 
spiritual habit. You want heroism and renunciation 
more, you want wisdom and discipline: organise 
yourself. Perseverance is one of the crowning graces 
of God. Get rid of all self-occupation. I don't mean 
self-examination for conscience' sake, though that, 
too, can be overdone. But self-oblivion is a splendid 
thing; move out of yourself, let in God. Never pray 
but you realise that you are but one of a countless 
number of souls, a countless number of stars. 

"Do not suppress pleasures, but let them flop. 
Pleasure is like the fringe of your dress, the afterness 
of an act. Ignore them, let them flop, never work 
directly for them. 

"God always gives joy, even in spiritual things 
there is a concomitant pleasure. There is a great 
joy in renunciation. I just love the monkish conception, 
it is the protest against the too much caring for the 
world. There are two poles within the Church the 
heroic monastic, and the homely domestic pole. The 
pole of renouncing the monk; and the domestic pole 
the married people who go whole into things. We 

xxiv Introduction 

need them both to make Christianity and the Church 

very wide, very deep and inclusive. The Roman 

Catholic Church proclaims them both as necessities, 

and both from God. She has never let go the monk 

without him, what an impoverishment! When I was 

young and tempted to fall into sin, no old woman 

with a tract could have saved me. But I came across 

a Dominican monk. What a splendid man he was! 

What I learnt from him! He saved me from sin. I 

remember he said to me once, 'You think I do all 

this for pleasure? for show? Give up marriage, live 

in discomfort and cold, eat fish all the year round, 

that I do it to please myself? I don't, I hate it, but 

I do it for God. I do it to keep alive in this world the 

spirit that the world forgets the spirit of renunciation, 

sacrifice, the supernatural life.' The body is the servant 

of the spirit. I think of Huvelin; look at him! What a 

great saint he was! What tremendous mortifications 

he went in for! All saints are excessive to start. He was 

a man of tremendous passion, tremendous intensity. 

And what wonderful gentleness and moderation he 

attained to! What patience! All that was the result 

of his self-discipline and excessive yes, no doubt 

excessive mortifications. No doubt he ruined his 

health but what would you have? He did not 

despise passion, he sacrificed it. No Protestant can 

understand that; they are too stupid! But he became 

a saint. No man was more tolerant of others; always 

suffering and ill, he sat in a chair radiating joy and 

support to all of us. 

"Religion is not based on miracles. Put them on 
one side. They are often symbolical; at any rate the 
supernatural life is not based on them. The super- 

Introduction xxv 

natural life is the life of prayer. By supernatural means 
we do and become things we could not otherwise do or 
become; by supernatural means we are linked to God 
through Our Lord and his Church. How marvellous 
is the supernatural life in the Church, that great 
hierarchy and interconnection of souls! Our Lord 
always banded people together; a little company and 
a head, the Apostles, the family. The parables are full 
of all this; always Christ speaks of a little company, 
and then their head. He seems always to work that 
way: the disciples, then St. Peter, the Church. It is 
always a company, a head, never a purely individual 
way. Do you sufficiently understand the idea of the 
Church the supernatural life of the Church? the 
aggregate of souls in the Church? the two aspects, 
the fed, and the feeding side? The Spirit of Our Lord 
in the Church, the separate Person of the Church, 
not simply the piling-on of persons, the addition of 
souls, but the separate Person of the Church. Both 
the communion of souls the visible body of Christ 
and his Spirit on earth and the invisible Church; 
the body and the soul, the Bride of Christ. Yes. And 
we are fragments of the Bride. 

"I hope you will always follow the mind of the 
Church. I like to notice how instinctively you do so 
already. People often ask me what religion is for. 
What is the use of religion? I do not know how to 
answer. I simply cannot say more than this that 
I simply cannot get on without it. I must have it to 
moderate me, to water me down, to make me possible. 
I am so claimful, so self-occupied, so intense. I want 
everything my own way. It is the difficulties and 
dangers in people that make them saints. It is almost 

xxvi Introduction 

impossible to me sometimes to stand people with God 
without God it would have been impossible. If I had 
not had my religion I should have been a blackguard. 

"I want to write so plainly and fully in my book 
about the problem of evil, the power of evil in a 
world ruled by an omnipotent God the source of all 
good; we never get rid of this problem. We can only 
minimise it. There are people who pretend that the 
earthquake at Tokio was a good thing to have cancer 
in the face is somehow splendid, and shows the goodness 
of God! I hate all that talk. Evil is a mystery, and you 
don't do away with it by calling it good. People often 
find strange reasons for disbelieving in God. They say 
so many things, ask so many questions about the 
Inquisition, about Galileo but they leave out this 
the great question the problem of evil. They strain 
at a gnat and swallow a camel. I want you so to keep 
the conception of freedom clear and crisp in your 
mind. I think you do. There is now a widespread 
opinion and propaganda which I am sure is shallow 
and sterilising. According to this view the liability 
to sin and evil in human beings is inextricably con- 
nected with man's freedom, with our being capable 
of virtue without the bad, no possibility of evil 
the possibility of sin is thus the price of the actuality 
of virtue and sanctity. This view, if true, might help 
us in our problem of evil. But is it true? I am sure 
it is not. On this point it is impossible to better 
St. Augustine's 'To be able not to sin is a great 
liberty, but to be unable to sin is the greatest liberty.' 
We can at once see this to be true if we think of God. 

"How horrible you felt it in that High Churchman's 
paper when he spoke of potential evil in God! This 

Introduction xxvii 

incapacity to sin is no limit to God's freedom; to be 
perfectly free means spontaneously to always love and 
will what is perfectly beautiful, perfectly true, per- 
fectly good. The mere ability to will otherwise is 
already an imperfection of the will. Hence man can 
will, can commit evil not because he is free, but because 
he is imperfectly free. The question that remains is 
why God who doubtless knows well this imperfection, 
and cannot love it as such, and who cannot but have 
known the great evils that spring from this imperfec- 
tion why did he not make man with a perfect liberty? 
Man would have been more rather than less good 
and all the misery and sin and evil would have been 

"I do not believe in the answer that God wanted 
a variety of goodness in the world; for here we have 
an opening of countless degrees of evil. Nor do I believe 
that God made man thus capable of sin from a pre- 
vision that he would fall, and that thus God would 
raise him, and through the Redemption raise him 
higher than he would have been without the Fall and 
the Redemption. For if penitence in man and mercy 
in God are beautiful things, sin nevertheless is a 
terrible price to pay for even these. If God could 
create finite beings incapable of willing evil, a con- 
dition of things admirably higher than that of liberty 
of choice, he would have done so. I believe there is 
only one way out: to hold as follows: 

"Aquinas draws out very fully the doctrine that the 
Divine Omnipotence must not be taken as the power 
to effect any imaginable thing, but only the power 
to effect what is within the nature of things 
ultimately according to the nature of God. God 

xxviii Introduction 

cannot violate his own nature. Now I take it that 
whether we see it or not, it is contrary to the nature 
of things for a finite being to possess perfect liberty, 
to be incapable of violating its true nature (and God 
himself, though infinite, cannot create infinite beings). 
The real alternative would thus be, not whether 
God should create beings with perfect or beings with 
imperfect liberty: but only whether the beings whom 
alone he could create (beings with imperfect liberty) 
would bring more happiness than misery, or more 
misery than happiness, into the world; and I take it 
that God will have seen that far more happiness than 
misery would have been brought into existence by 
the creation of beings capable of sin; and he would 
have preferred to bring that happiness into being, 
even accompanied by this misery. 

" I should love you to be penetrated thus by the sense 
of this true liberty of God, and by the need for grace, 
God's constant prevenience and gift. I want you also 
to feel this gift to spring, not from the intensity of 
evil in human nature, but from the weakness in that 
nature. Those who most exalt the power and need of 
grace do so usually by most depreciating nature. God 
thus gets glorified in direct proportion as man gets 
vilified. The more holy I find God, the more wicked 
I feel myself to be. This is touching and real, and 
almost irresistible to vehement natures, but it is 
dangerous and excessive. The inconstancy, variety 
and insufficiency of nature this is the central fact 
with us with its profound need of grace, and its 
incapacity to gain grace of itself. I wonder if you 
have noticed one more pathetic condition of our little 
earthly lot? that not only even sanctity as it is among 

Introduction xxix 

human beings here below is almost always limited in 
this or that, or in several directions but that even 
where it is fully great and adequate its delicate 
originality is somewhat blunted and blurred before 
it can circulate freely amongst the average souls, 
which are not comfortable except with something a 
little banal and thin. How much I have noticed this! 
How much one sees this in the pathetic transformation 
that St. Catherine of Genoa's figure has to go through 
at the hands of Battista! How much less attractive, 
less expansive, less entrancing she becomes than at 
the hands of Ettore, and then of the popular devotion! 
Popular devotions always need something a little 
almost vulgar, somehow. There are parallels of this 
even in Biblical writings. 

"I wonder if you have seen how much you will be 
called on to help people to help souls. The golden 
rule is, to help those we love to escape from us; and 
never try to begin to help people, or influence them, 
till they ask, but wait for them. Souls are never dittos. 
The souls thus to be helped are mostly at quite different 
stages from our own, or they have quite a different 
attrait. One should wait silent for those who do not 
open out to us, who are not intended, perhaps, ever 
to be helped by us except by our prayers (the best 
of all helps). We must be tolerant and patient, too, 
with those we can, and ought to help. This difference 
in souls wakes us up, and makes us more sensitive and 
perceptive. Many women are better helped by women 
than by men. Yet how few women are sufficiently 
trained interiorly to be able to help wisely! 

"There are such differences of soul! Some people 
are like geometrical patterns. They worship in wide 

xxx Introduction 

geometrical lines. Others worship a light that fringes 
off into darkness. Don't try to be like other people, 
or to make them like you. Puck may want to be 
a cat, but he can't be a cat. It would be a great 
pity if he could become a cat. I must wear my own 
top-hat, and also I must not kick anyone else's 

"I love Browning's poem Muleykeh. It is the story of 
a man who gives up his mare, his Pearl, because if 
he kept her she would become less than her best. 
How beautiful that is, and how touching! I will read 
it to you. He teaches her himself how to escape from 
him, though it breaks his own heart. 

"Prayer and suffering for others, voluntarily given, 
is like storing up riches for souls. No one can take 
the place of others for contrition, but he can, God 
willing, for satisfaction. Never forget the enormous 
variety of souls. This will help to develop still more in 
you the sense of interdependence, the hierarchy of souls 
the Church the Kingdom of Heaven, as conceived 
and awakened by our Lord. 

"It is curious, but it seems to me that some people 
are quite deficient in the religious sense. I don't under- 
stand it at all. They are like people who are without 
the musical sense. God must allow it, it is somehow 
his will. Religion to them, is a purely this-world affair. 
"God is a kind of chalk pit. Religion is not of this world, 
it is supernatural, it leavens the world. They can 
never understand this, and the need for this leaven. 
The Church works in two levels. She is never the 
State. She is not the police, nor a sanitary engineer, 
nor a bricklayer, nor a builder, nor a plumber. 
Marriage, having children, education, proper clothes, 

Introduction xxxi 

decent behaviour, the plumber all these are good 
things, but they are not religion. The essence of 
religion is the supernatural life; the other world, the 
otherness of God, different from, but penetrating this 
our life. That is God's level. The natural level is the 
State, etc. The Church must never be the State. 
People put God so far away, in a sort of mist some- 
where. I pull their coat-tails. God is near. He is no 
use unless he is near. God's otherness and difference, 
and his nearness. You must get that. God's nearness 
is straight out of the heart of Jesus. Religion is like a 
cuckoo in some people's nest. They do not understand 
man's need. No man is satisfied in a swimming-bath; 
he knocks his knees and elbows against its sides; he 
wants the sea. So with man's soul, he hungers and 
thirsts for the ocean, for God; God infinite and other, 
different to man, yet working in man. God's given- 
ness. Love, suffering, renunciation, they are God's 
level; the passion and hunger for God comes from God, j 
and God answers it with Christ. We are creatures, 1 
and we must be creaturely. If you go out and look 
at the stars, can you be so puffed out, so like a balloon 
as to think this earth is the only inhabited world of 
all those millions of stars? Do you think man the only 
conscious being God has made? Are you so like a 
balloon? I always tried to teach my children humility. 
I do not believe we shall ever have the Kingdom of 
Heaven here, not in this world. The Sermon on the 
Mount cannot be here. George cannot give the Kaiser 
his cheek to strike. You cannot give all that you have 
to the poor. The kingdom cannot be here. That is 
God's level. Utopias are no use. How boring are 
Utopias! The hunger and thirst for God in man's soul 

xxxii Introduction 

can never be answered here; nothing but God himself 
is the answer, is any use. 

"I always encourage people to practise many non- 
religious interests in their Lives. It's so important in 
helping others, and to keep your own religion full and 
mixed. You would find your religion itself grow thin 
and poor, sentimental, without this practice. Do not 
have too many practices; the soul to grow needs quiet. 
I rather hate all these religious conferences and con- 
fabulations; I don't believe they do religion much 
good. We talk such a lot about toleration nowadays: 
take care. In nine cases out of ten toleration means 
indifference. What people love and admire most in 
people is what they believe: their affirmations, not 
their negations. It is not Darwin's negation of religion 
we love, but his science of plants: it is not your 
father's agnosticism, but his love and joy and his 
music that are so precious. 

"The central fact of religion is not survival, but 
God. I am almost not interested in survival, unless it 
means God. Survival must mean God, or it means 
nothing at all. There are people who try to prove 
God only as a means to immortality; they have got 
it all upside down. How secondary is immortality to 
God! I always think St. Paul was excessive with his 
"Let us eat, drink and be merry," for look at the 
Psalmists! They hardly believed in immortality. They 
did not think about it. Yet theirs is the deepest ex- 
pression we know of love of God, of sanctity and 
holiness, and of joy. What joy they contain! They 
express the joy of the Saints. I do not believe we 
should all be sinners without this hope. I do not 
believe it. 

Introduction xxxiii 

"To know God here is something to know him 
and have union with him here through Our Lord, 
that would be enough without immortality. Look at 
St. Catherine of Siena; she saw Heaven here and 
now in the soul through its union with God. Heaven 
is within the soul. 

"Hell? Well, God calls you through love and if 
the love of God is not enough to make you good, 
perhaps you had better have fear. It is better to be 
good somehow, than not to be good at all, if you 
can't get any further than that. 

"People dislike and despise symbols so much now- 
adays, and yet how necessary they are! They are most 
inadequate, but that doesn't matter. Once when I 
was very ill, I dwelt all the time on a picture of the 
Sacred Heart. It was everything to me, I looked at 
it and prayed to it all the time, it was the only thing 
that seemed to make my illness bearable. After some 
years I saw this picture again: it was odious, vulgar, 
such a trashy picture! I was ashamed to think what 
it had been to me yet it had been everything! You 
see how the sensible always conveys the spiritual: the 
invisible in the visible. Christ everywhere makes use 
of the sensible to convey the spiritual, never the spirit 
alone. Man is spirit and body; he has arms and legs, 
he is not spirit alone, he is not even an angel. The 
spirit is stimulated through the senses to object to 
this is foolishness. Christ never left them out: the 
women who touched him, the clay on the eyes. He 
always and everywhere makes use of the sensible. 
Thus the bread and the wine. Man needs the sensible 
so long as he is man and not spirit alone. 

"I want you to hold very clearly, to see as clearly 

xxxiv Introduction 

as you can see anything, the truth not that all religions 
are true, but that all contain some element of truth, 
some fragment from God. But they vary in value 
greater or less they are never interchangeable. God has 
never left the world in complete and groping dark- 
ness; all religions contain some light from God. They 
are all from him. It is an awful idea that souls who 
cannot have known Our Lord should be debarred 
from God. None of the saints believed that. Even now 
only one in five people have ever heard of Our 
Lord. That's why I don't worry about Baptists and 
Unitarians. They can all get into my waistcoat 
pocket. The future of Anglicanism seems to me very 
dark unless they can revive the sense of adoration. You 
can't have religion without adoration. The Reforma- 
tion was a poor thing: and some people admire it so! 
It halved everything. We want more God, more 
Christ. The negation of things is Protestant, as 
opposed to Passion. 

"Our bodies are clumsy old fellows, we want too 
much of them: we try to express angel faces in worsted, 
to play Bach on a penny whistle, Beethoven on a 
hurdy-gurdy. The soul lives in two worlds hence the 

"The essence of sin is to take the jam without the 
powder. I want to speak of the abiding consequence 
of sin. We seem to be going all wrong here. The 
modern non-Catholics are giving this, the abiding 
consequences, up altogether. We are so fond of men, 
we can't keep God. The most subtle enemy of religion 
is humanitarianism. If Christianity is true, there must 
be abiding consequences. We can't get rid of it, it's 
in all the Gospels. Our Lord speaks of it several times. 

Introduction xxxv 

His message is an immense warning to us here and 
now, a terrific alternative. You must see that. If you 
read the Gospels and give that up, I don't know 
what you see. 

"Purgatory and Hell may be refined, but they must 
be there. The majority of souls can't go straight to 
Heaven; but God will never turn away from that soul 
that turns to him even only at the last. It is wilful sin, 
the will turning away from God to the very end, that 
makes Hell. That soul is in Hell that finally rejects 
and turns away from God. It must be so. God him- 
self can't alter that, it is the soul's own choice and 
abiding-place the abiding consequences. Sin is a 
disharmony. I keep that." 

During the last few months of my uncle's life we 
had our talks every week as usual, but he was very 
tired. He used up all his strength on the book about 
God that he wanted so much to finish, he spoke of it 
often. He seemed full of a deep peace and content. 
I think he felt his work was nearly done. He spoke 
very often of Troeltsch, whose death he felt very 
keenly. He had hoped to have so much from him, but 
"he was much further than I thought from Christianity. 
He must have changed a lot of late, more than I knew. 
But I like to hope and think that his soul was more 
Christian than he knew. I believe he was fundamentally 
Christian, and had he lived he would have returned to 
it fully and truly. Troeltsch used to laugh at me and 
say: 'Baron, you talk and talk. You make out this 
and that reason for people doing things, but the real 
reason is that people are so stupid.'" He often spoke 
of Tyrrell and his restless sceptical mind. "I remember 

xxxvi Introduction 

the very place where Tyrrell said to me, 'We shall go 
separate ways. You believe in love as the final end, 
but I believe in love and hate. I believe in the devil, 
I fight him with hate.' I always felt restless after 
being with him: one is always restless after being with 
sceptical minds." He spoke of how difficult it was 
for young people to understand the need for religion. 
"They have not enough experience, they need 
humility; that will come." He spoke of his horror of 
Pantheism, but how we escaped it through Christ: 
"A great foot, a pierced foot, prevents that door 
closing there." "Pantheism as a programme is no 
use," he said one day. He spoke of young Anglican 
clergy whom he found too fond of kite-flying. "They 
seem to have got a kind of Christism now, not God. 
God is too difficult.' Christ is easy. (Is he easy?) They 
must have everything easy. We hardly need God if 
we have Christ. How different all this is to Our Lord 
himself. Did he not come to show us the Father? Well, 
you can obscure Christ, but you can't shake him. So 
many people are too clever for religion: we want less 
brains, more heart. Brains are no use, we want the 
child. I always try to get the child to come up in 

He spoke very often of the Catholic Church, of 
what he owed to her, of what she was, her depth and 
breadth: "I ask myself which is the greater, depth or 
breadth? Depth matters most. Rome has that: she is 
deepest." He spoke of Huvelin: "Sometimes I ask 
myself the wisest, widest, deepest men I have known 
are not they all Roman Catholics? Yes, they are." 
He spoke of the sacramental life of the Church; of the 
great supernatural life and communion of souls, of 

Introduction xxxvii 

God's unique gift to the Church. "Has she not some- 
thing something peculiar to her alone, something 
specific, something unique? There, that's what we 
want; we cannot do without that. The Roman 
Catholic Church is like a great ship, first she rolls 
this way, then she rolls that, till she finds her equi- 
librium; and then how wise are her judgments! How 
magnificent her decisions!" Another day he said, 
"You can't be a Roman for nothing. There is a ten- 
sion here, a heroism, an other- worldness. If you don't 
feel it, then it's your fault. There must be some change 
in you." 

I believe there are people who speak of my uncle 
as a great theologian, but hardly a true member 
of the Roman Catholic Church. I do not know 
what to say to these: they seem to me so far from 
the truth to know and understand him so little 
that they have not found him at all. He lived so 
deeply in his Church's life that I cannot think of him 
as without her. His whole life and practice were 
inspired by her teaching and doctrine. He lived 
within all her boundaries, his mind was knit to, and 
his soul fed by, her soul. Everything he did was 
"to be in the mind of the Church." To try and 
isolate him from what she made is simply not possible, 
for he would inevitably cease to be all that made 
him himself. I feel as though I could not speak strongly 
enough for him here. For to me whom he taught, 
there was always this note, always this background; 
the necessity for man of a Church, the basis of all 
real sanctity; and for the greatest here below, the 
supernatural life of the Roman Catholic Church, "the 
deepest of all, spiritually, mystically, supernaturally." 

xxxviii Introduction 

To cut him away from her, and to expect him to live 
as well separate heat from fire, heart-beats from life! 

True, he often spoke of Institutional Christianity as 
his hair-shirt his Church his deepest pain. But how 
far this is from hisjinal word on the subject! Were not 
"costingness" and "tension" the two great elements 
of growth? Was not pain his greatest teacher? Did not 
just such an intense and claimful nature as his require 
more than anything the discipline and training, and 
the food, of the Roman Catholic Church? He gives 
himself a clear answer when discussing this question 
(in regard to the Sadhu): "The answer comes clear 
and complete. The price is assuredly so great that 
only a strong faith can pay it, but the gain is profound. 
And I know not whether of anything worth having 
for men here below more than this can be said." 

The Roman Church was the sap of his spirit, her 
life, the life within his own. How we should misunder- 
stand him if we did not get that! 

He was constantly affirming to me the need of some 
Church appurtenance 1 (just as in prayer he coun- 
selled always some vocal prayer Our Father the 
Creed the Psalms, and one decade of the Rosary 
daily; and of course always a daily reading of the 
New Testament and the Imitation if possible) ; and for 
those biggest souls that he saw and loved, he longed 
most of all, that they should eventually find their 
home and rest in the Roman Catholic Church, 
"that great supernatural home and communion of 
souls." He longed for them to accept just "that 
relative ordinaryness assuredly costing to human 

1 A very favourite word of my uncle's in this connection, meaning 
some sort or kind of Church faith and practice. 

Introduction xxxix 

nature, but uniquely dear to God." Towards the end 
he spoke wistfully of these very often, for to him they 
seemed not yet sufficiently on their knees. 

And yet he trembled at the idea of anyone's chang- 
ing. (I was not received myself till September 1926.) 
He begged one to put off making a decision, to wait 
patiently for more light to avoid all rash judgments 
and action. 

He was so afraid, lest it was his influence, or one's 
love for him making one wish to be where he was, 
that made one restless. His reluctance to allow me to 
consider, at first, the possibility of my changing from 
Anglican to Catholic, was the measure of his sense 
of responsibility, his recognition of the difference in 
souls, and in their state. " I never want to convert any 
soul that is practising in good faith what religion it 
possesses," he once said, "I only want to deepen and 
strengthen what that soul has already got. But, on 
the other hand, if I meet a non-pratiquant Roman 
Catholic, I cannot rest for longing till I have brought 
it back to some, if not to the full practice of the 
Roman Faith." 

He told me often of people who had changed under 
his influence, and had become poor or even unprac- 
tising Catholics and how he felt himself to blame 
in having unsettled them, and given them what they 
were not ready for. This was the deepest grief to him: 
"When I think of these, and it is quite a long list, 
how I wish I had never talked to them!" He saw 
too, and valued so greatly, the affirmations of other 
churches and religions, that he was anxious one 
should not clutch at fuller treasures with unworthy 
or unready hands. No doubt as he grew older his 

xl Introduction 

sense of his own dependence made him more and more 
aware of the vitality, the difference, the costingness and 
reality of his Church's life. For there is another life 
here "a heroism" which he loved, a life of which 
he, more than any, would wish one to be worthy. He 
feared lest one should step lightly over. Catholicism 
does not wear all its riches on the outside. 

Who can but be touched at this his tender solicitude 
for each soul's best, his anxiety lest he should be 
pushing one where one had not yet been called to go? 
Then he so disliked and distrusted hurry and antici- 
pation change, excitement and reaction were all his 
greatest foes; dullness and routine, faithfully accepted, 
were, he believed, a necessity for the soul's growth. 
And last, in his most touching confidence, he often 
told me how he felt sure that God loved and blessed 
my way and prayer; and. that failing any great light 
to the contrary, I should remain docile and humble, 
trying to put on one side any impatience or thought 
of changing, till I felt it clearly a sin to remain where 
I was. 

All this seems to me most wise, a fatherly wisdom. 
But I do blame myself for not showing him, and saying 
out more certainly as time passed, that I had found 
where was my home and necessity. He knew I had 
never seen the need for any Church till I knew him, 
nor did I know the possibility of loving any Church 
till I found his. But this was not enough. I had to 
show him more and this I could not do. I was so 
used to listening and accepting, not explaining. So 
each time that I grew restless, I tried again to care 
for what had grown to seem so empty, to follow what 
he had advised. I loved and practised one way, while 

Introduction xli 

joined officially to something to which I felt quite 
strange, and I tried to remain content in this my 
double state. I did not see that these alternations were 
not wholesome, and that there can be difficulties 
that sterilise, longings unfulfilled that may destroy all 
enthusiasm and conviction. My soul poised between 
two centres, and knowing where she should be, began 
to suffer loss. 

But in his knowledge and determination that no 
emotion or influence should guide one, how right and 
true that was! And how significant of the truth au 
fond is the fact that when I did change, the call came 
unadorned by any joy or emotion, only a hard and 
naked will to follow God was what I found. 

Now that he is gone, and one reads his books as 
a whole, it is impossible not to be deeply impressed 
by the lovely growth of his mind and soul within 
that great Communion. He matures and mellows 
quite clearly beneath our eyes. Towards the end, his 
whole nature seems to burst into flower, and that 
gentleness and geniality he loves so much becomes 
his own. Those "drops of clear religious wine" he 
speaks of, have purified him of any imperfection and 
strain; he is full of a touching humility and under- 
standing, a reaching out to all the other sorts of minds 
he saw and longed to love. His soul refreshes ours in 
its clear spring of tenderness and hope. He had, no 
doubt, to be where truth was fullest, love deepest; 
no half-way-house could satisfy a soul like his. He 
needed, too, all that huge tradition, that vast, wide 
world, that spacious home for every kind of soul and 

His passion could find no rest in cold conven- 

xlii Introduction 

tionality; and he loved, almost most of all, to share 
in the homeliness of his great Church. He often asked 
me to notice in all the pre-Reformation churches and 
cathedrals, the little touching evidences of a different 
form of faith. He never failed to say, "in your little 
pre-Reformation church." 

Once, years ago, I ignorantly asked him if it were 
not the same "just the same thing really" to him, 
were his friends Catholics or of any other sort of faith? 

I do not forget his answer, I do not forget his face. 
The stupidity of my question quite upset him and 
after a pause, he said, looking rather distressed, "The 
same thing how can it be the same thing? My little 
old thing, you do not understand. I love many 
Anglicans, High Church, Broad Unitarians, Pres- 
byterians yes yes all many. But it is not the same 
thing to me it can never be the same thing": then, in 
his deepest, most vibrant tones, "I am a child of the 
Confessional I am a son of the great Roman Church." 

A few days before he died he said, "I wait for the 
breath of God, for God's breath. Perhaps he will call 
me to-day to-night. Don't let us be niggardly towards 
God. He is never a niggard towards us. Let us try 
to be generous and accept. My illness is so little! 
I have no pain my brain is clear why should 
I not accept this generously? I would like to finish 
my book but if not, I shall live it out in the Beyond. 
I love the angels, they stand for something we 
cannot otherwise express. . . . 

"Plant yourself on foundations that are secure 
God Christ Suffering the Cross. They are secure. 
How I love the Sacraments! I am as certain of the 
Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as of anything 

Introduction xliii 

there is. Our great hope is in Christianity our only 
hope. Christ re-creates. Christianity has taught us 
to care. Caring is the greatest thing caring matters 
most. My faith is not enough it comes and goes. 
I have it about some things and not about others. So 
we make up and supplement each other. We give 
and others give to us. Keep your life a life of prayer, 
dearie. Keep it like that: it's the only thing, and 
remember, no joy without suffering no patience 
without trial no humility without humiliation no 
life without death." 

I was ill with influenza when my uncle died, and 
I saw him for the last time four days before his death. 
He was very tired and weak, and everything was a 
great effort. But he spoke of nearly everyone he 
seemed to be recalling them one by one. He spoke, 
too, of the Resurrection. 

When I look back on all these talks, the letters and 
this companionship, I know them to be the greatest 
privilege and joy I shall ever receive. If I have learnt 
anything, it is from him that I learned and with 
him there went a great dignity out of life. But I have 
never felt sad or separated from him. How should 
I? What he taught me has carried me on. 

" Our Lord is full of a great tenderness tenderness 
and austerity. There is no tenderness without austerity 
no love or greatness almost, without it. Our Lord 
saw that suffering was knit into human nature, but 
he does not become morbid over it. He sees it is not 
the end. He sees the coming of joy, the suffering 
ending in the crown the coming of joy through 
and because of this suffering." 

I was already thirty-eight when first my uncle 

xliv Introduction 

began to teach me. I had known him as a child, but 
I was afraid of him then. I was afraid first of his 
deafness and of his ear-trumpet; and next I was 
afraid of his strangeness. When I saw him at my 
grandmother's I always hoped I would not have to 
sit next to him at luncheon. I liked to watch him, but 
I dreaded to attract his attention. He seemed to me 
something so different and unordinary, something 
rather wild, a being belonging to another world. 
When, years later, he first began to talk to me, he 
told me how he had never forgotten the strange little 
girl who used to sit and stare at him and how he 
had said to my aunt, "I feel so sorry for that poor 
little thing; she will never fit into this world, she 
comes from another star." These words of his are so 
characteristic, and they comfort one too. For they 
show that though we cannot be the same in degree, 
we can share in kind with what we love most. 

Here, at the end, with so much left out and forgotten* 
I must stop. The least and the last of his many friends, 
I can speak less than any of those deepest things that 
he spent his life in pursuing. I can say so little of his 
passionate search for truth: in philosophy, theology, 
religion; in life and in love: he sought, apprehended, 
suffered and pursued, with a faith that ended only 
with his death. How much he found! I am confused 
to tell of even the beginnings. He saw "certain dim 
assurances"; he worshipped "a light that fringes off 
into darkness"; he found the reality of God, and the 
entire givenness of all our spiritual life, love, and 
prayer. To these things his soul vibrated; they made 
a commotion within his whole being that one would 
be blind not to see. 

Introduction xlv 

Through suffering he discovered joy, and to his 
"final note of joy" he added love. 

"Christianity taught us to care. Caring is the 
greatest thing, caring matters most." These seem to 
me his last most final words, uttered in a voice so 
small and still and far away, it seemed hardly his own. 

Love and joy are the way; for joy without love could 
have no being: love and joy together, springing up 
united from suffering here below, rise in adoration 
to find God. 


In Festo B.M.V. de Monte Carmelo, 1928. 



My very dear G\ven, 25 April, 1918. 

Your Aunt Mary showed me your plucky letter 
received by her yesterday morning. I was in church 
at Holy Communion this morning, and I then prayed 
and thought very specially of my very dear Niece 
that every deep, rich growth, happiness and faith- 
fulness may attend and fulfil her life and work and 
sufferings and various joys. Four points occurred to 
me I will put them down here for you, since now, 
lying up, you may care to let them simmer in your 
heart, and to get them to bloom into action or habit. 
This, however in proportion, pray as any of it really 
comes home to, really fits your own sight or search 
such things ought always to feel, at first, as just a 
size or two too big for us as what gently stimulates 
us to a further growth and expansion; but they should 
always be quietly ignored, if, and in so far as they 
come before our quiet look at them as conundrums 
simply imposed on us from without. 

(i) I am, then, really grateful (given you are run 
down and require a rest) that you are, plainly, much 
worn and tired for only so would you give up for a 
bit, and get looked after properly, and thoroughly 
rested back into full power, and it will be delightful 
if, without straining, you can now and then quietly 
browse through that charming Boissier or Horace 


4 Baron Von HUgel's 

and Virgil and perhaps this or that other of the 
books on Roman things. 

(2) ... 

(3) I continue much struck, my very dear Gwen, 
with your (very rare) youthfulness and keen ardour 
of mind. Your continuous openness to the impressions 
(fresh as ever) brought you by all things beautiful 
and true and good. Do you realise how rare this gift 
is? That it is a gift, one of the most precious of the 
gifts of God? That it is a form and kind of deep 
faith a true prayer? I ask all this that you may mix 
with these admirations, more and more, little exclama- 
tions of gratitude, of union with, of adoration of God, 
present in all this truth, beauty, and goodness. You 
could gradually develop this into spontaneous habit. 

(4) For years I have loved and prayed this prayer, 
Dearie. If it makes sense to you, you too might begin 
your day with it. "Receive, O Lord, my entire liberty 
my understanding, my memory, my will. From 
Thee I have received all things to Thee do I return 
all things. Give me but Thy Grace and Thy Love. 
I ask not anything else of Thee." 1 . . . 

Loving old Uncle, 

Freddy H. 

My very dear Gwen, 30 September, 1918. 

This is a letter all about your most dear father 
only, of course. But, being thus, you may not feel it 
inopportune you may even like to have it for rumina- 
tion since, though you must be longing to help, there 
cannot be much, at least of an external, practical kind, 
that you can do for him, just now. 

1 St. Ignatius. 

Letters to a Niece 5 

Well, then, first I want to say how deeply I care, how 
deeply I mind. I have known your father for nearly 
half a century; during all that time I have been getting 
to know fresh people, and have been getting to know 
those I knew already far more widely and deeply, 
I believe. And yet I have never, before those years 
or during them, known a man so utterly generous, so 
essentially lovable, as your father. Of course I know 
well, besides, that he is a real genius a genius of a 
large, rare kind a genius in music. But though 
I admire this, and I thank God for it this, in itself, 
is nothing lovable. What I love so in him is his radiant 
lovingness that rich spending, without thought of its 
being anything other than simply natural, utterly 
delightful, of a loving heart, upon whomsoever he 
may meet who at all appeals to it. And the appeal is 
felt to come, not from the apparent cleverness, or 
riches, or charm, but simply from the fellow-creature's 
need and cry for help and sympathy. What an untold 
world of kindness, of paternal help and warmth, he 
must have given away throughout all these years at 
the college. 

It is, then, a deep, deep grief, Gwen, to have to 
fear, from your letter, that we are probably about to 
lose him, in and during this our little earthly life. 
Then, next, I want to confess to you a prick and a 
pang of conscience which has been with me con- 
cerning him ever since we travelled down to Wilton 
together for your Uncle Mingo's funeral. I suppose I 
was overwrought or something else odd and abnormal, 
but, anyhow, I told him in starting on the journey, 
that I did not want to converse especially not about 
music. Alas, alas: how rude, how impertinent, how 

6 Baron Von Hugel's 

entirely contrary to my own self when reasonable at 
all! I have longed to find the opportunity to beg his 
kind pardon for this but have never seemed to find 
it without making a fuss somehow. So, my dear 
child, you who have inherited so much of his glorious 
generosity tell God for me, by your father's side, 
how deeply I love him, how vexed I continue with 
myself about that silly act of mine. 

And lastly, my Niece, let me say one little word 
about a much deeper matter. Your father, Dear, like 
your also fine-charactered uncle, George grew up, 
and lived to middle life, during a religiously sceptical 
time they could hardly escape that all-pervading 
atmosphere in any case they did not escape it. 
I love to feel that, even in those times, your father 
believed more than he thought he did; and again 
that, since then, he has quite possibly silently come 
to considerably more belief, even in his own con- 
sciousness concerning his convictions. I should dearly 
like, if he is still sufficiently, for short whiles, himself, 
that you should ask him quite simply to affirm his 
faith, his love in God or, better still, some little 
aspiration directly to God Himself. 

With entire resignation into His hands, 

F. v. H. 


My very dear Gwen, 9 October, 1918. 

Oh, we are sad at his having gone the generous, 
simple, loving soul the genius with a heart of a 
boy and yet with all a father's tenderness for quite 

Letters to a Niece 7 

a world of souls. You evidently expected this ending 
you Gwen, did. But your mother, poor thing, may 
have gone on hoping to the end, in which case the 
shock of his going will, we fear, be all the greater. 
How devotedly he loved on, from the first and un- 
ceasingly to the end! There, too so fine a man; for 
such things are not mere accidents they show a 
man's his nobility of nature. 

I trust and fancy that he did not suffer much, even 
at the end. If so, that will have been a great relief 
to you all, for him so extra-alive, so sensitive a con- 
stitution and nature. Much as I feel for you, very 
dear Niece for you so like him in many ways and 
for Dolly, who also loved him so much and who was 
so much loved by him: I yet feel most sorry somehow 
next, of course, to your mother for that world of 
his at the College of Music. The loss to hundreds of 
men and women, young and now middle-aged, who 
were there, or are still there must be literally 
irreplaceable irreparable, because your father was 
not simply a man who knew his business nor even a 
man of real or great talent; no, but because he was a 
man of deep genius, and who, as such, could divine 
when ny scraps of genius were lurking in others, and 
irreparable, even more, because his combination of 
such genius with his, in any walk of life, most rare 
steadiness and volume of selfless interest and affection 
of truly parental character is doubtless specially 
rare amongst musicians. Certainly Beethoven was not 
like that, nor Wagner. . . . 

Forgive absence of mourning paper. 

8 Baron Von Hiigel's 


My very dear Gwen, 11 December, 1918. 

No letter you will ever write to me shall, please 
God, ever remain unanswered shall remain without 
a reply as careful and complete as I can manage to 
make it. But you may have to wait a bit, my Niece. 
I never could write with ease not on such subjects, 
where we should never write, speak, or think except 
with voce di petto, never with voce di testa. And now 
I am still weak, and empty of brain, hence a further 

Let me make three or four points of your letter; and 
try to explain these as well as I now can manage. 

i. The gradual preparation for, and God's revelations 
preceding, His fullest self-revelation in Christianity. 

I am very glad you apprehend and appreciate this 
great fact a fact, however, which you will have to 
learn to apply, not only to the succession of history, but 
also to the simultaneous present. What I mean is that, 
not only was Judaism especially, yet also, in lesser 
and other degrees, Hellenism, Hinduism, etc., an 
historically previous preparation by God Himself for 
the fuller and fullest self-revelation; but this holds 
still of those imperfect, mixed forms and degrees of 
light, in so far as they still continue distinct in the 
world. The synagogue here in Bayswater is still now, 
on ii December, 1918, a fragmentary but very real 
revelation of God and, however unconsciously, a very 
real pedagogue to Christ. The little mosque at Wokmg 
is still, for some souls, a yet more fragmentary but 
still real revelation of God and teacher of truths more 

Letters to a Niece 9 

completely taught by Christianity. All this, however, 
only in so far as the souls thus helped have no interior 
incitement to move on and up into a fuller, truer 
religion. And nothing of all this means that these 
various religions are equally true (or false), and that 
it does not matter to which you belong (provided 
only you are in good faith). No: in these deepest and 
most delicate of all matters, even a little more light, 
more power, more reality even what "looks" a 
"little" means, and is very, profoundly much. It 
all only means, that nowhere does God leave Himself 
without some witness, and without some capacity on 
the part of the soul (always more or less costingly) to 
respond to, and to execute this His witness. And, 
again, that everywhere the means and the process 
are from fidelity to the light already possessed (yet 
often difficult to see owing to the agitations and 
cowardice of the soul), to further light, which again, 
in its turn, demands a delicate, difficult fidelity and 
fresh sacrifices. Yet with each such fidelity and sacri- 
fice, the peace, the power, the joy, the humble fruit- 
fulness of the soul grow. Always it is a search for 
expansion and happiness, found in acts gently costly 
and increasingly exacting. 

2. Only the best attractive to you ; and any, every church, 
very middling, hence dull, repulsive. Thus you do not go to 
country church services, etc. 

The touching, entrancing beauty of Christianity, my 
Niece, depends upon a subtle something which all this 
fastidiousness ignores. Its greatness, its special genius, 
consists, as much as in anything else, in that it is 
without this fastidiousness. A soul that is, I do not 

io Baron Von HilgeTs 

say tempted, but dominated, by such fastidiousness, 
is as yet only hovering round the precincts of Chris- 
tianity, but it has not entered its sanctuary, where 
heroism is always homely, where the best always acts 
as a stimulus towards helping towards being (in a 
true sense) but one of the semi-articulate, bovine, 
childish, repulsively second-third-fourth-rate crowd. 
So it was with Jesus Himself; so it was with Francis, 
the Poverello; so it is with every soul that has fully 
realised the genius of the Christian paradox. When 
I told you of my choking emotion in reading, in 
St. John's Gospel, that scene of Jesus, the Light of 
the World (that He is this, is an historic fact), as the 
menial servant at the feet of those foolish little fisher- 
men and tax-gatherers, what do you think moved me 
but just that huge, life-and-love-bringing paradox, 
here in its fullest activity? The heathen philosophies, 
one and all, failed to get beyond your fastidiousness; 
only Christianity got beyond it; only Christianity. 
But I mean a deeply, costingly realised, Christianity 
got beyond it: Gwen will, some day, get beyond it. 
It is, really, a very hideous thing; the full, truly free, 
beauty of Christ alone completely liberates us from 
this miserable bondage. 

"Well, perhaps yes," you will say, "but what am 
I, here and now, to do?" Do, as to church-going, 
nothing but what you already do. Only be very con- 
scientious and regular in going to your Holy Com- 
munions, whether in country or town, and in going 
to church every Sunday when you are in town. But 
as to your thinking and speaking, pray, and ruminate, 
Niece, over what I have been saying; look out in your 
readings for what confirms it; grow shy of any defence 

Letters to a Niece 1 1 

of fastidiousness; pray to God gradually to cure you of 
it, if and when you come fairly to see it to be a poor, 
a very poor, thing. You rightly dislike Pater's "affecta- 
tion." What I call "preciousness." Well, in face of 
the dread facts of human nature, and of the rich 
teaching of history, that church-fastidiousness is a 
sort of Paterism. 

3. What is the precise meaning of Thekla's insistence 
upon religion as primarily an is-ness, not an ought-ness ? 

A good question. Well, you see, Niece, when the 
Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation, and later 
the French Revolution came, they, in part, only 
articulated, but also they, in part, each differently, 
yet all greatly, fed and excited a reaction which had 
permeated the educated average man of Western 
Europe ever since, say, A.D. 1300. It was a reaction 
away from the (by then too exclusive) occupation 
with the object with things, ta*ken as though appre- 
hended by us without our minds, and especially 
with supernatural things, taken as so different in kind 
from our natural endowments, as to require a sheer 
imposing from without a simple plastering on to 
the human soul and mind. These doctrines, against 
which there came the reaction, are not the doctrines 
really held by the Middle Ages at their best say, 
from A.D. 1 100 to A.D. 1300, but they were the doctrines 
of the later, moribund Middle Ages, and they were 
doctrines by which those Renaissance, Reformation 
and Revolution doctrinaires were really profoundly 
infected as is always the case with men who do not 
patiently study the past (also the more recent past) 
and who, instead of discriminating, condemn what is 

12 Baron Von 

before them as it stands who do not untie knots, but 
who cut them. Again, Dear, do you note? Life taken 
cheaply "cheaply," I mean, because practised and 
sought outside of, and not within, and by working 
through, its entanglements! Well, now, these three 
(and other) specifically "modern" movements have 
been very largely dominated by a most ruinous, 
excessive, or even exclusive insistence upon the subject 
your own (or at least humanity's) apprehending 
powers, feelings, etc. These subjective powers get, here, 
more or less taken as alone certain, as always the first 
facts in the order of our life and consciousness. Thus, 
a baby will be taken first to feel, know himself or 
rather, his own feeling and knowing, and then gradually 
to discover an outside world his mother's breast, his 
nurse's hand, his cradle soft or hard, etc. all this 
being really less certain (in itself, or at least for his 
mind) than is his thus feeling, knowing himself. You 
entirely follow? 

Well, then, even more as to God the supersensible, 
the Infinite He is pushed still farther back amongst 
the late-acquired, the more or less doubtful "ideas," 
"notions," "perhapses." The regulative notions for 
our conduct, the useful, more or less, working answer 
to our real difficulties amongst our real facts. An 
hypothesis, "it is useful to live as though there were a 
God"? Kant's celebrated "als ob"? Conduct here 
alone is quite certain; but then, too, conduct alone 
entirely matters. Religion is here always directly 
dependent upon, it is but the (really derivative, 
though seemingly superior) sanction of morality. How 
different is real life, and the spontaneous attitude of 
all unsophisticated religion! In real life (all good 

Letters to a Niece 13 

psychologists and all careful theorists of knowledge 
are coming to see it) there is from the first direct contact 
with, direct knowledge of realities other than our- 
selves. Light and air, plants, animals, fellow-humans, 
the mother, the nurse: these are known together 
with ourselves we never know ourselves except with i 
and through those realities, and with and through our 
knowledge of them. Indeed, it is them we know best 
first; we know ourselves, at all adequately, only last 
of all. This knowledge of other realities less than human 
or simply human is never a knowledge through and 
through it never simply equals the reality known. 
But it is a real knowledge of these realities, as far as 
it goes; realities which reveal their natures in their . 
various self-manifestations. I know Puck as truly as ! 
Puck knows me; my knowledge does not merely 
extend to appearances of him appearances hiding, 
and probably travestying, his mysterious, simply 
unknowable essence. 

We thus certainly know other realities besides our 
human reality (whether individual or even collective). 
And mark you, if this very real knowledge of realities 
not ourselves, always lags behind those realities as 
they are in themselves: this knowledge, nevertheless, is \ 
(or can be] fuller than any complete and clear analysis of it 
can ever be. Thus reality comes first; then knowledge of 
it; then science of this knowledge. 

What about God? Well, we must first of all become 
clear to ourselves that, as with every degree and kind of 
reality, we always apprehend Him only in, and with, 
and on occasion of, yet also in contrast to, other 
realities. Again, that this apprehension and sense of 
God is (where not worked up and developed by the 

14 Baron Von HtigeTs 

great historical, institutional religions) very vague and 
general, if taken as something statable in theoretical 
terms. (Here again, then, is the difference between 
knowledge and science!) Nevertheless, thus defined, 
the religious sense exercises a prodigious influence. It 
is the religious sense, even at this stage, where it seems 
no more (on strict analysis) than a deep, delicate, 
obstinate sense of otherness, of eternity, of prevenience, 
of more than merely human beauty, truth, and 
goodness, which really keeps our poor little human 
world a-going. No great artist, no great philosopher 
or scientist, no great ethical striver will ever fully, 
consciously, and deliberately admit that what he 
strives to paint, to sculpt, to compose, or to discover 
or to understand, or to live and to be, is just human 
so-and-so-ness, very possibly without any further 
significance or truth about it whatsoever. 

We have to be truthful, conscientious: why? Because 
these are the dispositions for putting us into fuller 
touch with realities of all sorts, especially with the 
reality of God. Dispositions are the means to acquiring 
reality towards knowing, loving, willing realities 
greater than ourselves in which energisings we grow 
in our own smaller reality. 

When, then, Thekla says "religion has primarily 
to do with is-ness not ought-ness," she means that 
religion is essentially evidential; that it intimates, 
first of all, that a superhuman world, a superhuman 
reality is, exists. The first and central act of religion 
is adoration, sense of God. His otherness though near- 
ness, His distinctness from all finite beings, though not 
separateness aloofness from them. If I cannot com- 
pletely know even a daisy, still less can I ever completely 

Letters to a Niece 15 

know God. One of the councils of the Church launched 
the anathema against all who should declare that 
God is comprehensible. Yet God too, God in some 
real sense especially, we can most really know, since 
as does even the rose how much more He? Since He 
deigns to reveal Himself to us. He does so in a two- 
fold manner vaguely, but most powerfully in the 
various laws and exigencies of life, and of our know- 
ledge of it; and clearly, concretely, in and by the 
historic manifestations in and through the great 
geniuses and revealers of religion the prophets, and 
especially Jesus Christ. These latter manifestations get 
thoroughly learnt only in and through the various 
historical religious bodies. It is through men trained 
through and through in these schools of religion 
that all the more solid and sane insights and habits, 
even of the vague religion, get given most of the 
point and steadiness which, as a matter of fact, they 

4. There is not a line of all the above which has not 
to be learnt in careful detail, in lowly practice, in 
humble daily fight with self in docility and docility 
on and on. We will gradually, ruminatingly, get the 
whole unrolled before us. The all-important point 
is, I think, at each step to feel how rich, how inex- 
haustible, how live it all really is! That is why I am 
trying to get such words as "Rome," "Athens," etc. 
to mean a great rich world to you. 

Gradually I shall give you more directly religious 
books to ponder; yet, to the end, these should be made 
to penetrate and purify a whole mass of not directly 
religious material and life. God is the God of 
Nature as of Grace, He provides the meal and the 

1 6 Baron Von HugeTs 

yeast. Let us act in accordance with this, His own 

AfFec. Uncle, 

F. v. H. 


I am sorry but not a bit surprised that you have 
been finding Varro a bit dull even though he be 
presented by Boissier, who assuredly is in no wise the 
cause of this dullness. But I felt, Niece mine, that 
I must thus risk, now and then, say once in ten times, 
to give you something that will a bit bore you. No: 
I felt something more and other than that. You see, 
Niece, one reason why there are, as I think, so few 
at all large, strong minds and characters about 
nowadays, even in spite of the war, etc., is that 
education, training of all sorts, religion even, have 
been and are so largely pursued systematically as so 
much beguilement, so much sheer kindergarten. The 
dullness, the monotony, the hardness, the sheer trust 
as to worthwhileness, the self-discipline, the asceticism: 
all this is to count as old fogey-ness: and the result is? 
Well, wayward childishness. At eighteen I made up 
my mind to go into moral and religious training. The 
great soul and mind who took me in hand a noble 
Dominican warned me You want to grow in virtue, 
to serve God, to love Christ? Well, you will grow in 
and attain to these things if you will make them a 
slow and sure, an utterly real, a mountain step-plod 
and ascent, willing to have to camp for weeks or 
months in spiritual desolation, darkness and empti- 
ness at different stages in your march and growth. 
All demand for constant light, for ever the best the 

Letters to a Niece 1 7 

best to your own feeling, all the attempt at eliminating 
or minimising the cross and trial, is so much soft folly 
and puerile trifling. And what Father Raymond 
Kecking taught me as to spirituality is, of course, 
also true in its way of all study worthy the name. 
But L 'Opposition and the big and little Juvenal will, 
I think, not bore you at all all the less as coming 
from what did. 

The Letters of the Younger Pliny. 

These are truly silver literature, and without the 
genius that stamps the work of his close friend Tacitus 
as world-literature of the first rank. Yet how charming 
they are ! How much I hope you will browse on these 
utterly leisurely letters and learn much very much, 
not only about the Roman character already so 
pathetically but half, but a tenth part, aware of the 
great light and life and love of Christianity but about 
the human heart, the human soul what I aim at 
after all as the end crown of your reading. 

How wonderful in this way is his letter to Trajan 
about the Christians how delightful all his relations 
with that emperor, one of my dearest figures! How 
impressive his account of the fall of Pompeii, and so 
on and on! 

You will read it all please, at least twice, with the 
Life, etc., as well. I deeply regret that I have not been 
able to find a translation of P.'s Panegyric of Trajan 
that touching piece. I will continue to try for perhaps 
a French rendering. 

Your very afFec. old Uncle, 

F. v. Hiigel. 

Health, stationary still. 


1 8 Baron Von Hitge/'s 


My dear Gwen, 31 January, 1919. 

Thank you much for your good letter. I sent you 
this morning your new pagan Rome, packet five 
volumes, all of which are presents, so there is nothing 
even to come back this time. 

Please attend to the following points: 

1 . The Virgil is, you will see, simply the second, last 
volume of the prose translation, and which you already 
possess. . . . 

Altogether I should love it, if you ended by reading 
again and again all the first eight books of the ^Eneid; 
certainly the culmination of Virgil's lovely genius; 
the Sixth Book in particular has a mild splendour 
unsurpassed in all human literature. On the other 
hand I would counsel you against ever reading the 
minor poems all given in this second volume. They 
are all very slight affairs, certainly not by Virgil, and 
quite unworthy of him. We have such grand other 
things to get through, and so many of them we 
will not waste our precious time over insignificant 

2. As to the Tacitus, I should wish you to do him 
first amongst the books of the packet. And pray study 
the minor writings first. I want you to read, very slowly, 
ruminatingly, comparing part with part, etc., the 
Dialogue of the Orators it will teach you lots as to the 
strength and the weakness of this "silver age" Roman 
education. Next, the Agricola this, like the Dialogue^ 
at least twice, looking up all the British places on the 
map, and watching not only for interesting political 
and military details, but also for touches of the char- 

Letters to a Niece 19 

acter of Agricola and of Tacitus himself both such 
fine examples of the best Romans, who passed through 
the Terror under Domitian, on to the "Indian 
summer" of Rome's imperial times under Trajan, 
Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. At 
least, this is true of Tacitus and of him only up to 
and into the reign of Trajan upon the whole Rome's 
happiest time during the four centuries of the Empire. 
The Germania I always feel to be much less rich in 
content than its two predecessors, still it is interesting, 
especially again nowadays. Perhaps one careful reading 
will be enough for this. 

Only after all three minor writings and (of course) 
the translator's Introduction to them, will you tackle 
Tacitus's Histories. Please first carefully study the Intro- 
duction, and use throughout very capitally clear maps 
in the covers the maps in one volume whilst studying 
the other volume. Thus you can have the maps open 
before you all the time. But please note, not to force 
yourself to get any very clear, very detailed concep- 
tions as to the successive steps of the campaigns, etc.; 
concentrate, on the contrary, on T.'s superb portraits 
of characters, and his always noble, majestic ideals 
and indignation. Even the vilest facts will not hurt 
you, when thus lit up and all their grossness con- 
sumed by this glorious soul's magnificent ardour. You 
could carefully mark these passages, and could then 
read these very carefully three times. Note, too, very 
specially, the entire book concerning the Jewish War, 
and Tacitus's pathetic misconception of the Jewish 
religion, and of Christianity. This book is certainly 
to be read twice. I believe now, after all, the Annals, 
which were my former favourites, are less perfect than 

2o Baron Yon HugeTs 

these Histories. How I wish you knew Latin, to be able 
to read Tacitus's magnificence in his own language! 
Yet some of his splendour will reach you even in 
the English. 

I am gradually getting your next packet ready 
it is planned as the last pagan Roman packet, and 
will be, I hope and think, most valuable as a part 
of your course it will lift up the Christian authors 
in all sorts of ways. But, before then, you will care- 
fully read, when Varro is mastered, also that charming 
U Opposition sous les Cesars (Boissier) with those grand 
Juvenal-Johnson poems. 

What a fresh, further surprise and blotting-out of 
old landmarks is this General Election! I must not 
pretend to be other than very glad and relieved that 
the Coalition has been strongly backed and settled in. 
But three things in increasing order distress me. I feel 
that we must somehow have Mr. Asquith in the House; 
the returns by majorities of 8000 and 2000 respec- 
tively of such unprincipled but most mischievous 
wind-bags as Bottomley and Billings shows sadly 
clearly the weak side of all democratic excitement; 
and the sweeping victory of Sinn Fein, and with 
actually that woman lunatic returned in Dublin, 
shows still more clearly how little men are really 
dominated only, or even chiefly, by reason; in very 
large numbers, not by reason, but by passion a 
very different thing! 

My dear Gwen, I trust that even already you feel 
what a support against such windy impulsions, against 
such wild rootlessness, is the habitual living in a world 
steeped in history, in knowledge of the human heart 
your own, first and foremost, and, above all, in a 

Letters to a Niece 21 

sense of the presence, the power, the provenience of 
God, the healing Divine Dwarfer of our poor little 
man-centred, indeed even self-centred, scheme::. God 
bless you, then, Niece, at and for the New Year, 
very specially. 

Loving Uncle, 


Best wishes also to your Harry, and to Olivia, 
Richard, and David. 


My dearest Niece, 10 March, 1919. 

You asked me in your last letter to write again soon; 
and hence I do so, as to two points in your reading, 
and in your mental habits generally, which I am con- 
fident you will find of great advantage. I have myself 
practised and tested these habits now for some thirty 
years with very great fruit. 

i. Whenever you study a book which is yours, 
cultivate the habit of pencil-marking it, in a small 
hand, with a sharp-pointed pencil, as follows: (i.) Use 
the inner margins of the pages for references as to words, 
phrases form generally; and the outer margins for 
references as to persons, places, doctrines, facts and 
things generally. You slightly underline, with a short 
horizontal line, the word or words that strike you. If 
they strike you as to form you put, on the inner margin, 
at the corresponding height of the page, the number of 
the other page or pages on which (before or after this 
page) the same word or phrase occurs. If the passage 
strikes you as to its content, you put on the outer margin 

22 Baron Von Hugel's 

the numbers of the other pages on which these contents 
occur again. In fact, you form your book into a sort 
of Reference Bible. Thus, for instance, in your Pliny 
the Younger, any special garden arrangements, or 
special points of his Bithynian administration, or 
particulars as to the heathen cults or as to Chris- 
tianity, would be thus marked and marginally anno- 
tated with the numbers of the pages on which further 
details as to these several things can be found. Note, 
please, that for translations one only marks and refers 
for things; and that only in originals (hence, with you, 
only in books originally written in English or French) 
will one have underlinings for both things and expres- 
sions. Hence, Caesar, Tacitus, Pliny, etc., would only 
have outer margin references. But Boissier, etc., would 
have references also on the inner margins, just as 
Shakespeare, etc., would have them. 

Then, on the fly-leaves at the beginning of the books 
that belong to you, I would, in short words of headings, 
put down the points as to things that you specially 
love, or have most learnt from, in the book, with the 
numbers of the pages in which these several things are 
discussed; and on the fly-leaves at the end of the same 
book, I would similarly put down the things I have 
not liked, that I object tp. 

You would find that this twice double system of 
annotation makes the reading sink ever so much more 
lastingly into you, and that only thus can you readily 
find again all the things that have specially helped you. 

2. Strive hard (especially now you will be coming 
to the directly Christian books) to attain one of two 
possible frames of mind. It will be only if you can 
manage to make the right frame of mind into your 

Letters to a Niece 23 

second nature, that you will deserve to grow in 
insight, love and fruitfulness, my little Gwen. 

(i.) You could try and force yourself to see, or to 
pretend to yourself that you see, principles or con- 
victions advanced by men holy or revered. Do nothing 
of the kind: you would only lose your sincerity, you 
would but prepare for yourself a dangerous reaction, 
and you would not really thus come to see a single 
step farther than you already see. 

(ii.) Or (and this is, I think, for all of us the more 
immediate fault) you could concentrate on your own, 
present, explicit not-seeing of a thing, so as to decide 
that it does not exist, or (at least) that it never can or 
will be seen as true by yourself. This is doubtless the 
chief reason why so few minds grow in their outlook 
after, say, eighteen or twenty-one: they are so busy, 
pompously affirming to themselves and others that 
they don't and can't see this or that that this is not, 
and that can't be as to harden down, for good and 
all, into their narrow, stuffy little world. They thus 
confuse two very distinct things sincerity concerning 
the insight they have got, with striving to acquire 
further, deeper, truer insight. It is, of course, profoundly 
true that we get to see more and better by being very 
faithful and very operative with regard to the light 
we have. But, then, this fidelity and operativeness 
should be very humble, very certain that there exist 
oceans of reality of things and laws beautiful, true, 
good and holy, beyond this our present insight and 
operation. I so love to watch cows as they browse at 
the borders, up against the hedges of fields. They move 
along, with their great tongues drawing in just only 
what they can assimilate; yes but without stopping 

24 Ear on Von HUgel's 

to snort defiantly against what does not thus suit them. 
It is as though those creatures had the good sense to 
realise that those plants which do not suit them 
that these will be gladly used up by sheep, goats or 
horses; indeed, that some of these plants may suit 
them the cows themselves later on. So ought we 
to do: not sniff and snort at what we do not under- 
stand here and now; not proclaim, as though it were 
a fact interesting to anyone but ourselves, that we do 
not, here and now, understand this or that thing; but 
we should just merely, quite quietly, let such things 
stand over, as possibly very true, though to us they 
look very foolish as indeed, possibly, things that we 
ourselves will come to penetrate as true and rich indeed. 
In a word, we can and should be sure of all that is 
positive and fruitful for us in our outlook; sure, also, 
that whatever really contradicts that is false. But as to 
possible further truths and facts, we will leave ourselves 
peacefully docile and open. 


My most dear Gwen, 7 April, 1919. 

Your letter has set me thinking re-thinking your 
mind and soul, and how best quietly to feed and help 
them. I wanted to write an answer on Saturday, and 
then to-day. But my last four or five nights have been, 
upon the whole, so bad that I dare not yet write 
directly about your very important and delicate points, 
since, when I am in such "en-comp6te" condition, 
such letter-writing means further bad nights. I will 
write as soon as I can. This is only a scribble, lest my 

Letters to a Niece 25 

silence were to end in making you fear indifference or 
offendedness on my part neither of which would be 
at all the case. 

I wonder whether you realise a deep, great fact? 
That souls all human souls are deeply intercon- 
nected? That, I mean, we can not only pray for 
each other, but suffer for each other? That these long, 
trying wakings, that I was able to offer them to God 
and to Christ for my Gwen- child that He might 
ever strengthen, sweeten, steady her in her true, 
simple, humble love and dependence upon Him? 
Nothing is more real than this interconnection this 
gracious power put by God Himself into the very 
heart of our infirmities. And, my little Gwen, it is 
the Church (which, improperly understood, "dumbs" 
my little old, bewildered Child) it is the Church 
which, at its best and deepest, is just that that inter- 
dependence of all the broken and the meek, all the 
self-oblivion, all the reaching-out to God and souls 
which certainly "pins down" neither my child nor 
this her old groping father which, if it "pins down" 
at all, does so, really only even taken simply intel- 
lectually as the skeleton "pins down" the flesh. 
What a hideous thing the skeleton, taken separately, 
is, isn't it? Yet even Cleopatra, when in the splendour 
of her youth, she had such a very useful, very necessary, 
quite unavoidable skeleton inside her, had she not? 

But this will be better explained another time. 
Meanwhile we will both breast the* waves, whether 
sweet or bitter, looking not at them, but through 
them on and up to God, our Peace. 

26 'Baron Von Huge/'s 


My very dear Gwen, 5 May, 1919. 

Here I am writing to you, in your new temporary 
home, looking out of your window, I expect, upon how 
much of past history recorded in gloriously beautiful 
monuments, poems in stone! And I am doing as my 
first act (after an urgent business card), on this my 
birthday, this my scribble to you. I am, dear, dear, 
sixty-seven years old to-day! Thus, dear Child you 
might almost be my granddaughter do I strive to 
attain to the joy of Princess Colombe, in Browning's 
touching play. You remember how she, Colombe, 
had, up to her coming of age, always received countless 
sumptuous presents and she had found only pleasure, 
and less and less pleasure, in such receiving. So then 
she settled she would receive no gifts at all on this, 
the first day on which she could order her own life 
in her own way; but she would herself give and give 
and give. She felt that would bring not pleasure, but 
joy, but beatitude. And so it did Colombe finishes 
her day radiantly happy. So, then, sit on a footstool 
here, by me, Daughter; and I will try and give you 
not exterior things, but interior things things that 
cost one a lot to get, a lot to keep. They are things, 
indeed, that also cost one a good deal to give and 
I can clearly tell you why, my Gwen. Look you, Dear: 
there is simply nothing that one soul can transfer to 
another soul even at these souls' best with" the 
particular connotations, the particular experiences of 
heart and heart, of blood and breeding, of sex and 
age, etc., yet it is these particularities which incarnate 
the convictions of any one soul for that one soul. Any 

Letters to a Niece 27 

one soul ean be fully impressive for another soul 
only if that first soul comes out, to the second soul, 
with its convictions clothed and coloured by those 
its particularities. And yet the second soul, even if 
thus impressed even if it thus wakes up to great 
spiritual facts and laws, this second soul will at once, 
quite spontaneously, most rightly, clothe and colour 
these its new convictions with its own special qualities 
and habits and experiences of thought, feeling, imagi- 
nation, memory, volition; and so most really to try 
and help on the life of another soul means, Dear, a 
specially large double death to self on the part of the 
life-bringing soul. For it means death to self before 
and in the communication the life-bringing soul 
must already, then, discriminate within itself between 
the essence of what it has to say and the accidents, 
the particularities, which clothe the utterance of this 
essence; and it must peacefully anticipate the accept- 
ance at most of that essence, and not of these accidents. 
And then, after the communication, this soul must 
be ready actually to back the other soul in the non- 
acceptance even of the essence of the message, if there 
is evidence that the other soul is not really helped, 
but is hindered, at least for the time being, by this 
essence now offered to it. And, as already said, at 
best, only that essence can and should be taken over by 
this other soul, and the light-bearing soul, even then, 
must at once be busy helping the less experienced 
soul to clothe the newly won essence in clothing from 
the wardrobe of this other soul. 

My Gwen, you see, this now, as follows, is the point 
which, with the sendings of books which I begin to- 
day, I hope you may end by seeing clearly, steadily, 

28 Baron Von Hugel's 

in your quite individual manner and degree. You 
see, / see, how deep, and dear, how precious, is your 
faith in God and in Christ. I thank God for them, and 
if to the end you cannot acquire, without really 
distracting or weakening that faith, a strong and 
serene insight and instinct concerning the great 
occasions and means by which those great faiths have 
been, and are still conveyed to, and articulated and 
steadied amongst mankind why, then, to the end, 
I must, and will, actually defend you against the sheer 
distraction of such instincts and insights not actually 
possible to you. But it is plain that you would be a 
much richer, wiser, more developed and more grateful 
soul if you could and did permanently develop the 
insights and instincts that I mean. And certainly the 
things I am thinking of their perception con- 
stitutes just the difference between a fully awake, a 
fully educated mind, and a mind that is awake only 
as to results, not as to the processes; as to what it 
holds, and not as to who it is to whom it owes that it 
has anything large and definite to hold at all. 

You see, my Gwen, how vulgar, lumpy, material, 
appear great lumps of camphor in a drawer; and 
how ethereal seems the camphor smell all about in 
the drawer. How delicious, too, is the sense of bounding 
health, as one races along some down on a balmy 
spring morning; and how utterly vulgar, rather 
improper indeed, is the solid breakfast, are the pro- 
cesses of digestion that went before! Yet the camphor 
lumps, and the porridge, and its digestion, they had 
their share, had they not? in the ethereal camphor 
scent, in the bounding along upon that sunlit down? 
And a person who would both enjoy camphor scent 

Letters to a Niece 29 

and disdain camphor lumps; a person who would 
revel in that liberal open air and contemn porridge 
and digestion: such a person would be ungrateful, 
would she not? would have an unreal, a superfine 
refinement? The institutional, the Church is, in 
religion, especially in Christianity, the camphor lump, 
the porridge, etc.; and the "detached" believers would 
have no camphor scent, no open air, bounding liberty, 
had there not been, from ancient times, those con- 
crete, "heavy," "clumsy," "oppressive" things 
lumps, porridge, Church. 

There is, most certainly, a further difficulty in this 
question. The Church, especially the Church in the 
most definite sense, the Roman Catholic Church, has 
at its worst done various kinds of harm, introduced 
complications and oppressions which, but for it, would 
not have been in the world. I know this in a detail 
far beyond, my Gwen, what you will ever know. But, 
my Dearie, let us keep our heads; and let us ask our- 
selves, not whether "Church" of any kind does not 
open the door to certain abuses special to itself, but, 
primarily, only whether as a matter of fact it has not 
been through the Church or Churches that Christianity 
has been taught or practised; that Paganism has been 
vanquished; that Gnosticism and Pantheism have not 
carried all before them, long ago: whether indeed it 
is not owing to the Church and Churches to the 
organised, social, historical, institutional fact and 
tradition, that the most independent-seeming, the 
most directly inspired souls, do not draw a large part 
of the purest of their conceptions. Thus George Fox, 
the founder of the Quakers, taught that souls are 
each and all directly taught by God, and have no 

30 Baron Von HugeTs 

need whatever of Churches, institutions, etc. all these 
latter things are so much obstruction and incubus. 
That he himself, at the end of two years of utter 
aloofness from all men, was taught directly from 
heaven (without any kind of previous initiation by 
any human being) that Jesus is the Way, the Truth 
and the Life; that God is Love; that to live is Christ 
and to die is gain, etc., naively admits that, during all 
that time, he had his Bible with him, reading, reading 
it, all those twenty-four months. And how that, after 
those entirely individual, entirely direct, utterly new 
revelations, he did find teachings in St. John's Gospel 
and Epistles, yes, not unlike his direct revelations; 
but these revelations were in no way suggested by those 
Bible passages, for these, Fox's revelations, were real, 
were revelations from the living God to his, Fox's, 
living soul and how can something living be sug- 
gested by something dead? How can the Spirit be 
tied to the letter? How can anything but God Himself, 
and my own soul itself these two working and 
responding directly in and to each other how can 
or could they be otherwise than stopped or stifled by 
anything not themselves by any person or thing 
other than just themselves in this their unique 

Now all this does not prevent Fox from having been 
a very spiritual man, and his good faith is transparent. 
Yet equally clear is the utter rottenness of his psycho- 
logy and the childish simplicity of his conception as 
to the methods actually employed by God. For those 
beautiful thoughts, those great facts as to God and as 
to Christ, were they less beautiful, less great because 
they had been perceived and expressed already 

Letters to a Niece 3 i 

fifteen hundred and more years before Fox? And were 
they less Fox's own, was he less free in uttering them, 
because they had been awakened in himself, so utterly 
freshly, by those lovers, thinkers and writers of the 
past? Nor would it be adequate to reply: "Ah, well, 
at least the individual Fox was awakened by, or on 
occasion of, another individual, such two individuals 
do not make a Church, still less does that one individual 
(the Johannine writer) constitute a Church. " Such a 
reply would be poor indeed. For the Fourth Gospel 
is already a Church Document it already simply arti- 
culates the faith and love of the Christian community 
some sixty years after Our Lord's death. And even 
the whole New Testament, or also the oldest parts, 
even the unique life and love of Our Lord themselves; 
even these again presuppose a Church, a community, 
a tradition, etc., in which Jesus was brought up, and 
which He learnt from and obeyed till He transcended 
it, transforming and fulfilling all that was good in it. 
You may ask, my Gwen Niece, what precisely I am 
driving at? Do I want to make you a Roman Catholic? 
Why, of course, no, Dear, I am busy, not with trying 
to get you to turn actively "churchy" even. I am 
hoping only to get you gradually to see the huge, 
unique, irreplaceable good that you, as we all, owe 
to the Church. Even if (which I hope may never 
happen) you came to find it somehow impossible to 
keep up as much of Church practice (Holy Com- 
munion, etc.) as, thank God, you practise now: even 
then you would (if I succeed) feel a deep, deep grati- 
tude to the Church something like to, though con- 
siderably more than, you will come to feel towards 
ancient Rome and ancient Greece. Want of such 

32 Baron Von Hugel's 

insight and such gratitude towards any of these forces 
constitutes always, I am sure, a very real limit and 

Farther back, I said that the main point to consider 
was, not the harm done by churchmen at their worst, 
but the special function and work of the Church at its 
best. You see, Gwen, this is but the same principle 
which comes continually into everything. Take mar- 
riage. What a unique means of training the soul, 
how magnificent is its ideal! Yes, but nothing is, of 
course, easier than to collect volumes full of instances 
of infidelity, tyranny, non-suitedness, etc. A good 
lawyer-philanthropist friend of mine has enthusias- 
tically put forward the example of certain American 
states which allow sixteen valid reasons for divorce. 

Take parenthood : what a unique relation, what an 
irreplaceable means for the mind's and soul's growth. 
Yes, but the volumes full of misguided parental 
affection or folly or tyranny! So with the State, so with 
Art, so with Science, so with all that the hands of men 
touch at all hands which so readily soil even what 
they most need, what is most sacred. But notice how 
Church, State, Family, Children, the Marriage Tie, 
these, and other right and good things, not only 
possess each its Ideal, unattained outside of and 
above it. No, no: they each possess within them more 
or less of that Ideal become real they each and all live 
on at all because, at bottom, they are necessary, they 
are good, they come from God and lead to Him, and 
really in part effect what they were made for. 

Now the four sendings of books, beginning with this 
one, will specially invite you to note the action of the 
Church within the Roman Empire. The present five volumes 

Letters to a Niece 33 

deal with the Church's Triumph over Paganism ; the next 
batch will deal with the Church's Triumph over Gnosticism ; 
and the last two batches will deal with the hermits, 
monks, and three or four of the largest minds amongst 
the Roman Empire Christians. 
As to this batch, read, my Dear, as follows: 

1. Wiseman's Fabiola (a gift). The parts descriptive 
of the Catacombs, Christian rites, etc., two or three 

2. Allard's Persecutions, vol. i. The Acts themselves 
two or three times the rest at least once. 

3. Prudentius's Cathemerinon. I hope you will care 
to learn some of these hymns, so full still of the sense 
of all that Christianity had cost, and of how it was 
worth, oh, all that and much more besides 1 

And 4. Then Allard's Persecutions, vols. iv. and v. 
Allard will thus give you the beginning and the end of 
those centuries of persecution. I hope that the Pru- 
dentius break will prevent the Allard affecting you 
too much. You will sincerely tell me how it all goes. 

I trust the Salisbury time will refresh and rest you, 
my Gwen Niece. Kind regards to Miss Edith Olivier, 
with whom I used to have good walks and talks 
in Wilton. 


6 May, 1919. 

Your post card just come, crossing a long letter and 
five books from -me. I did not, in fact, explain in that 
letter the following: (i) The Fabiola book, though not 
actually great, is yet a thoroughly useful thing: it 

34 Baron Von Hugel's 

was written after many years' frequentation of the 
Catacombs, and much living in that early Christian 
world. And it is thoroughly readable witness its 
translation into thirteen different languages. The 
Allard volumes are very sincere, reliable, first-hand 
work better far than anything in English on the 
same subject. I do hope you will love Saints Felicitas 
and Perpetua the sweet virility, the tender strength 
of them! The Prudentius is, I believe, well done. 
Prudentius is no genius like Lucretius or like Virgil, 
but Prudentius is possessed by an insight and by 
facts far, far deeper than Lucretius or Virgil ever 
grasped. And he breathes a rich, utterly unsentimental 
peace because a peace after and in struggle, suffering, 

Getting out all fine days now. 

Uncle H. 


My dear Gwen, 8 May, 1919. 

Many thanks for little letter acknowledging the 
Persecutions books and my long outpourings as to 

My post card will have reached you later. I shall 
love in due course to hear all your impressions as pat 
and fat as you can make them. But this has nothing 
to do with all that. It simply wants to tell you that 
we leave this for kind Cousin Evelyn de Vescis, 
Clonboy, Englefield Green on Thursday and stay 
there possibly till September and that we much hope 
you will be able to manage a full week with us there. 
In this I would read aloud to you, say, Browning's 

Letters to a Niece 35 

great Ring and the Book or some other amongst those 
I want you to know, that you may happen not to have 
read so far. And we could have thorough, easy, all- 
round talks in that pretty Surrey garden. 

P.S. Delighted you like Tertullian! Mind you read the 
"Apology" very carefully also the "Testimony of the 
Christian Soul. " But indeed all the treatises translated 
in that "Library of the Fathers" volume are studded 
with jems of thought, faith, love of the purest water. 


14 May, 1919. 

This, my dear Gwen, is only to say two little 
immediately practical things. . . . 

(2) I am delighted at your going to listen for three 
days to Edward Talbot, whom indeed I know, and 
whom I like and trust very truly. He will be able to 
put before you a large, fine amount of that really 
unlimited experience, wisdom, practicality, gained and 
transmitted by the Christian Church. You will gain 
much if you go simply without a touch of captiousness 
leaving quietly what does not help using gratefully 
whatever may, upon prayerful reflection, really help. 

Pray for me there and always, Niece mine. 



My most dear Niece, 12 June, 1919. 

I have been revolving your letter its points in my 
old head and heart, and the following is the upshot. 
I begin with the books and end with direct life. 

36 Baron Von 

1. I am glad you have read Paradise Lost, and still 
more glad that you do not like it. Rabindranath 
Tagore, at Vicarage Gate, told me that all his life 
he had wondered why Englishmen considered Milton 
a poet at all; for that to be a poet is not, primarily, 
to have a keen sense for poetical forms, but to be 
penetrated by a love of all things good in Nature, as 
vehicles and presentations of the spiritual realities 
that an innocent sensuousness is a sine qua non for all 
real poetry. But that Milton is, in his heart of hearts, 
doubly cold, doubly hostile, to Nature good Nature. 
That he is incurably a Puritan; and then has also 
taken over the cold side of the Renaissance. I think 
myself that you are more just than Tagore, and that 
those exquisite early and short pieces are true poetry, 
are innocently sensuous. I feel the same with Lycidas 
and Comus. But Tagore is right as to the poet in 
Paradise Lost all but grand bits, such as the invocation 
of light, his blindness, the description of Eve in 
Paradise, etc. The fact is that Puritanism is neither 
natural (in the good sense) nor (really) Christian. 

2. As to Shakespeare, he is, indeed, an utter marvel 
of richness. But in Shakespeare I always end by 
feeling a limit in a way the very contrary to Milton's 
limit yet a grave limit still. Shakespeare is a true 
child of the Renaissance also in the Renaissance's 
limitation. He has not got that sense not merely of 
life's mystery, etc. but of the supernatural, of the 
other Life, of God, our Thirst and our Home he has 
not got what Browning on these points has so 
magnificently. No dying figure in Shakespeare looks 

forward', they all look backward; none thirst for the 
otherness of God, they all enjoy, or suffer in, and with, 

Letters to a Niece 37 

and for, the visible, or at least the immanent, alone. 
When the soul is fully awake, this is not enough; it 
only arouses, or expresses, man's middle depths, not 
his deepest depths. It is not anti-Christian; it is even 
Christian more Christian, really, than Milton as far 
as it gets; but it does not reach the ultimate depths, it 
never utters the full Christian paradox and poignancy. 

3. As to the Martyrs, I well understand, Dear, that 
you have had enough of them, at least for the present, 
yet I do not regret sending you the Allard. I am 
profoundly convinced that we can never be impressed 
too much by the reality, the transforming, triumphing 
power of religion by the immense factualness. And 
for the purpose, I know nothing more massively 
impressive than those first three centuries of perse- 
cution. But it is literature, doubtless, more for a 
mature or elderly man, rather than for a young woman. 
And you will be able to feed the astringent emotions 
(alongside of the sweet) in other ways. This, of course, 
means that I hold these astringent emotions and 
moods this apparent hardness, this combat and 
concentration, this asceticism, to be, in the right 
place and proportion, an absolutely essential con- 
stituent of the Christian outlook. Of course, a child 
can and ought to have only a very little, and a peculiar 
kind of it; a woman ought to find and to foster a form 
and amount of it, different from a man's needs. But 
where this element is not, there is not authentic 
Christianity, but some sentimental humanitarianism, 
or some other weakening inadequacy. By all means 
return now, to Vicarage Gate, the three Allard 

4. I had got you your next parcel made up of books 

38 Baron Von Hu gel's 

about Gnosticism and the Church's immortal victory 
in the first two centuries over that many-headed 
monster, so live again amongst us. I had got passages 
from the chief Gnostics for you in English; such 
Pagan Magic writers and attempters of a Gnostic- 
Magic substitute for Christianity as Apuleius and 
Philostratus (Life of Apollonius of Tjana). And I had 
finished up with Ibsen's grand, little-known play 
picturing these last attempts for those times of 
Paganism in competition with Christianity. I had all 
this ready, again, to bring home the reality, the 
irreplaceableness, of Christianity; and to protect you, 
through the self-expansion we can attain by history, 
from the Esoteric Buddhists, the Spiritualists, etc. 
The Gnostics of our day, very small descendants of 
those ancient Gnostics, who, bigger though they were, 
could not prevail in the fierce testing of human life. 

But I see you are hungering now, not for the know- 
ledge of things to avoid, but for the further revelation 
of realities to love. And so I am putting this Gnostic 
packet away for the present. I will take it when we 
have done the Pagan and Christian Greek things; as 
a matter of fact, Gnosticism was primarily Greek, 
though it broke out as a spiritual epidemic, at its 
worst, in the late Roman Empire. 

5. I send you instead, by Hillie for two nights at 
Vicarage Gate, the following four books two gifts 
and two loans. Pray read them in the following order, 
and with the precautions and considerations I shall 
now propose. 

(i.) The Octavius of Minucius Felix. 

I think this is the finest Latin Christian pre-Con- 

Letters to a Niece 39 

stantinian document, as so much literature. It is touching 
and helpful also spiritually; but as to depth and power, 
there exist greater things in that range of documents, 
e.g. Tertullian. But then Tertullian is disfigured with 
every kind of vehemence, want of proportion, bad 
taste in details, sometimes even in great things. 
Whereas Minucius Felix is so beautiful throughout 
his form, that Boissier loves him for it. You remember 
Boissier's fine analysis of the Octavius? Read, then, 
this short piece, very carefully, ruminatingly, at least 
twice the Introduction first of all, and at the end 
of the second reading. 

(ii.) Turmel's Tertullien. 

Tunnel is an excellent initiator into Tertullian, and 
will give you, I think, a vivid sense of what a genius, 
what a dazzling variety, what a harshness and impossi- 
bleness that poor great mind, that vehement, burning 
and largely burnt up soul, was in real life, and is still 
in his very difficult, largely repulsive, but astonishingly 
live books, still. You will never forget, will you, Gwen, 
that Rome that official Christianity deliberately and 
continually refused to accept Tertullian's tone, or to 
endorse his Rigorism? He ranks as the greatest of the 
Montanist heretics. And most undoubtedly Rome was 
right in all this, and Tertullian was wrong. Yet it 
remains simultaneously true, that Tertullian's is the 
first mind and personality of the first rank, classable 
as Christian, indeed heroically Christian in intention, 
that God gave or permitted to mankind, after the long 
break since St. Paul. Our Lord, the Unmatched, the 
Inexhaustible God with us, surrounded by little, 
little men. And then, promptly, one great follower, 

Baron Von HugeTs 

St. Paul. And then a long break, followed by a second 
great follower, Tertullian. And then a shorter break, 
and a third great, indeed a still greater, a far mellower, 
a far more fully Christianised Christian man, St. Augus- 
tine. You will at first hate Tertullian as much as the 
Milton of Paradise Lost perhaps. Tertullian, a lawyer 
by training, and a hard, fierce, African Roman by 
temperament with all the tendency to excessive 
reaction and vigilant rigorism of most converts 
especially of converts from the moral corruptions of 
that late Paganism, can seem can be along certain 
of his most numerous sides as legalistic, as mercenary, 
as cold, etc., as Milton. Yet all this, surrounded by so 
much more, and the whole as part of a personality 
full of vehement exuberance a personality which, 
though it can shout unjust reproaches and apparent 
arrogances, is, at bottom, pathetic in the sense of its 
own unloveliness so in his little treatise on Patience, 
a virtue, he confesses at starting, which he, the vehe- 
ment, the turbulent, never possessed. Please note, 
too, that Tertullian stands quite unique in the way he 
has always been treated by the official Church. A 
man once declared a heretic, and his writings were 
shunned by all but a few orthodox scholars, and his 
writings would never be used with admiration and for 
acceptance. But Tertullian was taken by St. Cyprian 
as his, the bishop's, daily spiritual reading; and, indeed, 
St. Cyprian's own writings are full of reminiscences of 
those of Tertullian. And even in our recent times 
upon the whole more strict amongst the orthodox 
than were those earlier centuries this same privileged 
treatment remains: there exists, e.g., a three-volume 
Selections from Tertullian, made ready for sermons 

Letters to a Niece 41 

throughout the Sundays and holidays of the year: 
this by a French priest in the forties or fifties, with 
full episcopal approbation. Why has Tertullian always 
enjoyed this quite exceptional treatment? It is, I think, 
not so much because he was the first to coin a whole 
string of striking technical terms, which were taken 
over permanently by Christian, especially by Latin 
Christian theology, but because Tertullian's errors 
were mostly excesses in opposition to the natural, the 
first impulses of the average man or woman thus 
these errors were, upon the whole, harmless. 

(iii.) Tertullian, English translations of some of his 
chief writings, in the "Library of the Fathers," vol. i. 

Although Tunnel will already have given you well- 
chosen, well-translated extracts from Tertullian, I 
should like you to read, in this (very fine) English trans- 
lation, the great "Apologeticus" so amazingly rich in 
vivid pictures and in vehement emotions and the beau- 
tiful, deep "Testimony of the Christian Soul." I have 
deliberately withheld from the packet a good English 
translation of the "Testimony of the Martyrs" and 
(again) of his "Testimony of the Christian Soul" a 
little volume like the Minucius Felix. I have so acted 
because I do not want to give you a second Tertullian 
volume, unless and until I find that you are more helped 
than repelled by the fierce African. Of one thing I am 
sure: no one can get much out of Tertullian unless the 
person, man or woman, be thoroughly self-disciplined, 
self-trained in the fruitful art and virtue of gathering 
roses amidst thorns, and of discerning jewel eyes in a 
toad's head. I want my niece to end by becoming such 
a discriminator; how weary I am of the lumpers, the 

42 Baron Von Hilgel's 

whole-hoggersl I will not press you, over the Tertullians, 
as to the amount of reading of him. You may find 
even a single reading of the Turmel volume, as of the 
"Apologeticus" and "Christian Soul" in the "Library 
of the Fathers" volume, more than you can stand. 
Or again you may discover refreshing oases in that 
scorching desert, and may be drawn on by a genius, 
as certainly a genius as he requires bucketsful of 
expansion and of sweetness to render useful and 
palatable even thimblesful of his rigidity and bitter- 
ness. If you are thus fascinated, a double reading of 
Turmel, and a double reading of the English volume 
(at least of the two pieces proposed) would certainly 
not be too much. 

(iv.) Palladius, Lansiac History of the Early Monks. 

Gwen will think that her old Uncle has never done 
with astringency! My Gwen: just only you get inside 
any one of the deeper and deepest men souls, when fully 
awakened by grace, and you will perhaps marvel at, 
you will certainly have to note, the large presence in 
very various forms, no doubt of such astringency, so 
if it be only to understand the history of men's souls, 
a considerable acquaintance with such pickles and 
prickles, such salt and such mustard, is necessary. 
Besides, as to this Palladius book in particular, it 
admirably balances and completes your outlook upon 
dying Paganism and upspringing Christianity in the 
decadent Roman Empire. Also, you can hardly under- 
stand well the St. Jerome and the St. Augustine 
volumes, of the packet to follow, unless you know some- 
thing about St. Anthony and his companions. I shall 
be interested to hear whether my little old Gwen 

Letters to a Niece 43 

manages to discern, in these often strange scenes, a 
necessary, abiding element (capable of all sorts of 
forms and of degrees) of Christianity itself. There is 
still a strange (at bottom childish) intolerance abroad 
as to the ascetical element; but men the deeper ones 
are again coming to see what they had far better 
never ceased to see so Professor William James, so 
too Professor Ernst Troeltsch both men of the largest 
outlook. If you like Palladius, read him twice; if 
you don't, put him by till you can appreciate him, 

6. As to the worldliness well, yes, my Gwen, it 
is a thoroughly vulgar thing, especially when we 
remember the regal call of our souls. You know and 
you feel this; and you have only to try and to do 
better and better to fail, in this respect, less and less 
often, less and less fully. There is, however, one 
consolation about this worldliness is a less dangerous 
foe of the spiritual life than is brooding and self- 
occupation of the wrong, weakening sort. Nothing 
ousts the sense of God's presence so thoroughly as 
the soul's dialogues with itself when these are grum- 
blings, grievances, etc. But, of course, the ideal is 
to do without either worldliness or brooding. I say all 
this, whilst confident that you do not class a right 
amount of (and kind of) sociability and of pleasure 
in it, as worldliness. Of course such social activity 
and pleasure is right, and indeed a duty and a help 
to God. 

7. I love to think of the happy times you have had 
in Westminster Cathedral and now in Salisbury 
Cathedral. I take it that God in His goodness has 
granted you the simple Prayer of Quiet or, at least, 

44 Baron Von Hilgel's 

that you get given touches, short dawns, of it, now 
and then. You know, dear, how much and often 
I insist with you on the visible, the historical, the 
social, the institutional. But this is done without even 
the temptation to doubt, or to treat lightly, moments 
of formless prayer. Such formless prayer, where genuine, 
is, on the contrary, a deep grace, a darling force and 
still joy for the soul. May you have, and keep, and grow 
in this grace! What are the tests, the conditions of 
this genuineness? They are two. Such prayer may 
never become the soul's only form of prayer; formal, 
vocal or mental prayer the reciting of e.g. the Our 
Father, the Glory be to the Father, Acts of Faith, 
Hope, Love, Contrition (as in the prayer-books or 
made up by oneself) prayers, all these, we can give 
an account of when we have done them: such prayers 
must never completely cease. And such formless prayer 
is the right sort if, in coming away from it, you find 
yourself humbler, sweeter, more patient, more ready 
to suffer, more loving (in effect even more than in 
affection) towards God and man; given the first 
(precaution) and this second (result) you cannot well 
have too much of this prayer. And I think God will 
lead you much along this path; and that you will 
get beyond the worldliness, and other faults, especially 
through it. For you will get to love it so; and it will 
grow or will intermit, in proportion as you are faithful 
in turning away from self. A homely heroism will 
feed this prayer of speechless love; and the speechless 
love will feed the homely heroism. 

Letters to a Niece 45 


My darling Gwen-Child, 3 July, 1919. 

Your two letters about the Canterbury Retreat 
were, and are, a deep satisfaction and joy to get and 
to ponder over; only our having three friends staying 
here, and my nights having, anyhow, become bad 
from doing too much, have kept me from writing at 
once. And even now I feel I had better not embark on 
your big learned questions gnosticism and earthly 
progress, but I had better merely give you some 
impressions and suggestions directly connected with 
the effects of that Retreat or with the details of your 
coming here. 

1. As to your visit here . . . 

2. As to Ring and the Book, I had not realised the very 
happy fact that you knew it well already you shall 
have the book from me here, but I think we had better 
not do more with it than just compare our choice of 
finest pieces. For I want to use these few precious 
hours to start you in St. Augustine in his Confessions. 
I have two precisely similar copies ready for this 
meeting; so you can follow in jour copy what I shall 
read out to you from mine. I think this may well be 
the best way for you to begin St. Augustine, to do so 
with one who has tried to live the Confessions at 
their deepest these last fifty years so stop till Thursday, 

3. I so well understand both your deep helpedness 
by Edward Talbot and by the services; and, again, 
the dullness of the lectures on St. Francis of Assisi 
(entrancing subject though this be!), and your longing 
to get away from all that ladies' chatter. As to this 

46 Baron Von Hilgefs 

latter, it almost looks as if you had no rule of silence 
(entire, or with but a break of an hour a day, say) . 
Yet this is a point so obvious and so important, that 
I expect you did have silence, but only that the ladies, 
even so, managed, over questions or the like, to get in 
much dissipating chatter. Certain it is that at no time 
is overmuch talking compatible with spiritual growth; 
to learn interior silence, the not talking to self our 
little notions petted as our own, etc. is fundamental 
in the attaining of the spiritual life. 

4. I especially understand the genuine, even great 
pain that growth caused you, Gwen. A very good 
sign. Truly, you understand, and will cultivate the 
knowledge, of two facts or laws, Dear, won't you? 
The first is that our ideal must be, in and for the 
long run a genial, gentle, leisurely expansion no 
shaking of the nerves, no strain, no semi-physical 
vehemence, no impatient concentration suffering and 
(involuntary) strain may come to us; but all this will, 
where good, be upborne and expanded into peace 
and humble power, if we keep little in our own eyes, 
gently watchful, and united to God in love. The 
second fact or law is that nothing we may feel, 
think, will, imagine, however spiritual, however real 
spiritually, but has, in this our earthly lot, to be paid 
for in the body. True, the joy of it will even do our 
body good: still a certain subtle, unintentional strain 
has been introduced into our nervous system. The 
same, in its degree and way, would be true, if we took 
systematically to music or to mathematics. There is 
no necessary harm in this, and no means of fully 
avoiding it. Yet, it is important we should be aware 
of the fact. For such awareness will help to give us 

Letters to a Niece 47 

a certain sobriety and moderation in all this our 
emotional life a sobriety and moderation which will, 
if wisely managed, greatly add to and aid that fun- 
damental Christian virtue creatureliness. 

5. And lastly consolation^ Dear, is sooner or later 
followed by Desolation ; and the latter is, when and 
where God sends it, and we have not ourselves brought 
it on ourselves by laxness and dissipation, as true a 
way to God, and usually a safer one, than consolation. 
Day and night, sunshine and storm, union and alone- 
ness both are necessary, sooner or later, Sweet. But, 
of course, it is for God, for Him alone, to leave and 
to apportion these vicissitudes to each soul. And 
certain it is that it is of much help to have some older, 
more experienced soul handy also, who can and will, 
if and when we get into Desolation, cheer us on, by 
the reminder of the former consolation, and still more 
by the great fact that only through such vicissitudes 
through fidelity in them can we grow strong and 
deep in God and for Him. 

Loving old, 



My darling Niece, 5 July, 1919. 

As to Traherne, Vaughan, Crashaw (I add Herbert 
and Donne), I think they all contain much spiritual 
food one could easily make one's spiritual reading 
for several years of them, if their form became bearable 
for long and extensively to one. Also there are single 
poems (e.g. Vaughan's "They are all gone into a 
world of light," and Herbert's "Sweet day, so cool, 

48 Baron Von Huge/'s 

so calm, so bright") which are perfect, indeed magnifi- 
cent or exquisite even qua poems. Yet the bulk of the 
poetical work of all five seems to me hopelessly dis- 
figured as to form by their quasi-perpetual straining 
after some conceit, some play upon thought when 
that thought's seriousness demands, in good taste, the 
greatest possible directness, sobriety, simplicity; yet 
again, if one compares them with real religious 
English poetry, such as Keble, one finds, I think, 
that they contain more sheer poetry than Keble. They 
are more virile, somehow; I was sorry, in my last 
letter, that I did not make a point of your ever dear, 
fine father. Nothing could be more deserved than that 
the thought of him should have been specially with 
you in Canterbury; had he been frivolous and narrow- 
hearted you might never have come to much! 

Loving Uncle-Father. 


From letter of 7 August, 1919. 
My darling Gwen, 

i. St. Augustine. I cannot exaggerate the gain 
that I think you will derive from feeding for years 
upon the Confessions. They, more than any other book 
excepting the Gospels and the Psalms, have taught 
me and I believe they will teach you, will penetrate 
and will colour every tissue of your mind and heart 
as to four things especially. 

(i.) Seriousness. The average, conventional, latter- 
day, enlightened, etc., outlook as to moral respon- 
sibility, purity, humility, sin, is just so much childish- 

Letters to a Niece 49 

ness compared to the spirit that breathes in those 
deathless pages. That entire way of recording one's 
own or other lives, as though they were just so many 
crystals, or at most so many plants; as though they 
could not, in the given circumstances, have been 
other than in fact they were: all that sorry naturalism 
and determinism, with its cheap self-exculpation and 
its shallow praise (because also shallow blame) of 
others: all this is nobly outsoared, is obviously nowhere, 
in that deep manly world of St. Augustine. 

(2.) Reality, Distinctness , Prevenience of God, our Home. 
This again, how little we are recognising it! And how 
this fundamental fact pervades St. Augustine! It is be- 
cause of this mighty fact (2) that fact (i) ever taken in 
all its seriousness, leaves the soul rock-based, serene, un- 
shaken; even though it wander far away from God, its 
Home. Yet that Home continues ready to receive it back. 

(iii.) The Church, the Community, the Tradition, the 
Training School of Seekers after, of Souls found by God 
and Christ. This great fact, overlooked nowadays as 
fact, and the other two St. Augustine had them all 
three in deepest operation each requiring, supple- 
menting, strengthening the other. 

(iv.) Our Dead ourselves when dead. St. Augustine is 
the finest antidote to our prevalent weakness here 
again. What soul ever owed more to another than 
Augustine to Monica? Can there have been many 
souls more holy than Monica's? And have there been 
many come back from more deadly sins and errors 
than Augustine? Yet with all she was, with all her 
saintly life and glorious death, all still vividly before 
him, Augustine quietly records her frailties and prays 

50 Baron Von H tigers 

for her, and begs all who read him throughout the 
ages to pray for her, for the forgiveness of her sins. 
In this way even Monica becomes, if I may speak in 
homely fashion, not a lobster-pot, but a springboard, 
not a blind-alley or a terminus, but a starting-point 
and a spur to seeing, willing, doing even further than 
her, further than her whilst she was in this life. 

2. God. I shall be glad if on this point you can and 
will develop two distinct currents of conviction and 
emotion: the two together will give you a deep growing 
faith. By all means concentrate upon the lights that 
may come to you, as it were incidentally, and as 
background, in and through your prayers of Church 
services, Prayer of Quiet and Holy Communions; and 
leave alone definitions of Him, and clear, reasoned 
articulations of your faith in, of your conceptions of 
Him. Good, excellent provided you not only respect 
for others, but you interiorly reverence as indirectly 
but most operatively necessary for yourself, the great 
positive conclusions of the greatest thinkers, theo- 
logians, saints, the great definitions of the Church 
concerning God. I mean learn to shrink away from 
the childish attitude of Schiller, in his epigram that 
he refuses to belong to any religion, because of his 
profound religiousness, or of Goethe in his Faust that 
it does not matter what we think God to be, what we 
say of Him that it all equally affirms and equally 
denies Him. I cannot exhaustively know, I cannot 
adequately define, even a daisy, still less Puck. Still 
less you. Does it follow that I cannot know, in various 
degrees, really know, a daisy, Puck you that it does 
not matter how I conceive them, that this conception 
is not ever so much more penetrating, ever so much 

Letters to a Niece 5 i 

more true, than is that conception? You know Gibbon's 
far too influential gibe at the Arian Controversy that 
it was all a silly squabble concerning a diphthong 
as to whether Christ was Homo susios same substance 
with the Father or Homo sousios of similar substance 
with the Father. Gibbon thus confounded rich, far- 
reaching live differences, with their ultimate reduction 
to technical terms. You might as well declare that a 
controversy turning upon one million pounds sterling 
that presence or absence was but a wrangle over 
the numerical sign the vertical stroke of i. Since, 
on the one side, men wrangled "000,000" and, on 
the other side, men wrangled " 1,000,000." Of course 
all great issues can intellectually be reduced to such 
beggarly-seeming symbols; and in this reduced form 
they can only appeal to those who know them in their 
living fullness and operativeness. But it is a transparent 
piece of claptrap to decide off-hand, from such reduc- 
tions, that this or that one is worthy of all respect 
because it covers great riches of fact, and that another 
deserves all contempt as a mere empty formula. My 
Child will then just simply love and serve God in and 
through her prayers, her joys, her sufferings her 
Church and her Communions her children and her 
dear ones all but she will not tilt at, she will not treat 
lightly definitions, however dry-seeming and abstract. 

Two great laws I am convinced they are of and 
in our little earthly lives and probation. The one 
fact and law is, how unequipped are young people, 
say up to thirty at the earliest, for any final negative 
decision as to religion. I mean definite, institutional 
religion; and therefore how heavy is the responsibility 


52 Baron Von Hugel's 

of parents and seniors if they provoke, if they give 
ready occasion to, the young to any indiscriminate 
revolt against such definite institutional religion. Such 
seniors may have the deepest experience of what such 
definite, institutional religion means in and for their 
own lives, but they ought simultaneously to make 
clear to themselves that this their own formed con- 
viction has been an affair of time, and that they must 
not presuppose it as extant in the young, or as simply 
transferable to the young by command or even by 
careful teaching. This, of course, in no wise means 
that children and young people should not be taught 
some religion, should not be wisely trained in some 
religious (institutional religious) convictions and habits. 
It only means that at every step you should remain 
conscious of the inevitable, the right of difference 
between these young things and yourself and that 
we will have gained a great point if they leave your 
hands with only a little definite religion, but with a 
sense that there may well be more in it than they can, 
so far, see for themselves. 

The second great fact or law of human life is that 
good faith and the effects of our view and decisions 
(upon ourselves and others) are strikingly incom- 
mensurate. A child is taken over a factory in the 
best good faith it puts its hand into the machinery 
its good faith in no wise saves it from its own quite 
sincere but entirely ignorant action. No doubt that 
in more purely spiritual and moral matters, good 
faith does more or less neutralise some of the effects 
of inexperience, precipitation, etc. but it does not 
neutralise them entirely. All this then means that we 
will strive to make the young feel more and more 

Letters to a Niece 53 

that sincerity is indeed a one most necessary virtue for 
them; but that docility is quite as necessary a virtue. 

Your father exemplified this so grandly in music 
the subject-matter of his special genius: he was not 
at all merely himself and sincere there; but for years 
he kept himself at school under Dannreuther, and to 
the hour of his death he was definitely learning from 
Bach and Beethoven, Wagner was continuing en- 
riched and enriching a great articulate and increasingly 
articulated tradition. Indeed, also in religion, I love 
to remember how religiously-tempered he ever re- 
mained how nobly he overflowed and left behind 
him in his actual love and interests, such books as Buckle's, 
which, nevertheless (owing to that early, never directly 
revised inhibition and depletion), he never ceased 
from, now and then, praising to me. It was doubtless 
his most beautiful purity and love of young souls that 
thus kept him from being himself centrally determined 
by those brilliant materialists. And then, my Gwen 
I look, not back, but onwards not to what he was 
(even at his darling best), but to what he is, is in the 
true full life which assuredly he has already gained, 
or is in process of gaining. 

My darling Niece-Daughter! I feel I know you, and 
God's purifications of you, much better since you were 
here those darling days. And I feel, as I felt at the 
moment you told me of a big, piercing fact, that you 
have all the materials ready to your hand of down- 
right holiness. Oh, how kind and generous of God when 
He makes it impossible for us to become very happy 
unless we become very good. Bless you, Child. Pray for 
this old thing. I pray for you and the three. 


54 Baron Von HilgeFs 


My darling Gwen-Child, 18 August, 1919. 

I am always so glad when you can and do articulate 
some perplexity about one or other of the huge, rich, 
many-sided not questions, but facts and laws which 
I try to help you to see for thus I feel on sure ground 
not only as to those great facts; but also as to your 
whereabouts, or your obscurity, concerning them. 

I do not any more remember my exact object in 
telling what you have evidently remembered very 
accurately; but I will now take the point in (and 
more or less by) itself, and will make it as clear as 
ever I can. 

You see, my Gwen, that with the all but limitless 
sway of subjectivism, especially since the eighteenth 
century, almost everyone nowadays, who is not 
deeply fed and filled by quite definite religious 
(institutional religious) life and convictions, thinks, 
if they think of truth and fact at all, of things not 
given, not found, but as things somehow projected, or 
created, by us (and this, all within and only for the 
purpose of our human nature and human limitedly human 
certainties and happiness). Strictly speaking, such an 
attitude should never speak of truth as in any sense 
ultimate and independent of ourselves; or of any reality 
as certainly existing prior to, and independently of, 
our affirmations of it. Such a temper of mind, if it 
talks of Church, of Christ, of God at all, can only 
talk of them as just so many "beautiful" or "interest- 
ing" ideas within your and my brain and heart as 
things possibly without any reality outside of these 
receptacles. Such people could not ever raise the 

Letters to a Niece 55 

question as to whether all three facts and realities (as you 
and I hold them to be) themselves communicate themselves 
to man themselves invade his consciousness, provided such 
consciousness is pure and sincere. This question, note, 
Dear, is distinct from the question as to whether or 
not Church, Christ, God, are all three true, all three 
real. The Roman Catholic Church any and every 
Christian group or individual who would deny, or 
even discriminate between, the truth, the reality, of 
any one of the three, would stultify itself or himself. 
God leads to Christ, and Christ leads to Church; 
and, inversely, the Church leads to Christ, and Christ 
leads to God. Or, better, the Church always involves 
Christ, and Christ always involves God; and God 
always involves Christ, and Christ always involves 
the Church. This, Dearie, is clear enough, isn't it? 
But 'please note (not as contradictory to this, but 
different to this) that when we speak thus we are 
speaking of the complete interconnection, the com- 
plete three-mountains-chain, as God always sees it, 
or some human souls here below always see it; as it 
is in itself, whether many or few, all or no, human souls 
see it. We are not speaking as (in this world of slow 
growth, of complications, and of trial, of weakness, 
cowardice and sin) the situation actually stands. Every- 
where in this little "cabined" life of man we have 
to introduce a similar distinction between the com- 
plete type, as most certainly willed by God, most 
certainly planned by Him, and effected again and 
again by and with His help; and the incomplete, the 
merely inchoate individuals always in all ranks of 
actual life the considerable majority. I believe only 
5 per cent of most flies ever attain to their full develop- 

56 Baron Von HtlgeTs 

ment; yet every one of these nineteen in every twenty 
achieve, as far as they go, the type! They indicate, they 
imply it. With mammals the waste is less, but still 
very large if it is right to speak of "waste" where, 
very possibly, life is, after all, the richer for even such 
indications. When we come to man we still get some- 
thing similar, the many mere beginnings of human 
life children dead before birth, or before the age of 
reason, idiots, the insane. Also the long centuries of 
barbarism. All this, note, quite independent of any 
personal fault, any sin, on the part of those inchoate 
human beings. Well, here again we can say that so 
far (that is, apart from sin) the world is, after all, 
upon the whole richer were there no such indications 
than if it were reduced to those individuals who attain 
to the full human stature. 

Now this great fact or law, this great difference 
between type and individual, the realised ideal and the average 
attainment, runs also clearly through the manifesta- 
tions of God to man, and the apprehensions by man 
of God and His condescensions. The Jewish religion 
was not false for the thirteen centuries of the pro- 
Christian operations; it was, for those times, God's 
fullest self-revelation and man's deepest apprehension 
of God; and this same Jewish religion can be, is, still 
the fullest religious truth for numerous individuals 
whom God leaves in their good faith; in their not 
directly requiring the fuller, the fullest, light and aid 
to Christianity. What is specially true of the Jewish 
religion is, in a lesser but still a very real degree, 
true of Mohammedanism, and even of Hinduism, of 
Parseeism, etc. It is not true that all religions are 
equally true, equally pure, equally fruitful the 

Letters to a Niece 57 

differences are, on the contrary, profound. And it 
is our duty never to level down, never to deny or 
ignore, God's upward-moving self-revelation, God's 
/j^-religion. At the same time our ardour requires 
harnessing to patience, to a meek encouragement to 
all the smoking flax, all the broken reeds, of our 
earthly time and comrades, for these are God's 

Now then, back to your precise question. The 
ordinary Roman Catholic scholastic textbook teaches 
that such good faith (not adequacy), such individual 
sufficiency (not type-fullness), is more operative with 
regard to ignorance, or even denial, of the Christian 
Church, or even of Christ, than with regard to denial, 
or even to ignorance of God. This because, after all, 
Church and Christ are historical, contingent facts, 
which require to be imparted to us, in a way, like 
the existence of the Emperor Augustus and the reality 
of the United States of America, thus at the beginning. 
But, no doubt, the non-Christian religions all furnish 
their followers with (imperfect) conceptions of God, 
so also with (imperfect) conceptions of Christ (Moses, 
Mohammed, Buddha, etc.) and imperfect conceptions 
of the Church (temple, mosque, etc.). Whereas God 
is the metaphysical absolute Reality, which is involved 
in, which indicates itself in, our deepest needs, thoughts 
and conscience. When I told you that story of Monsieur 
Littre, I did so, amongst other reasons, in order to 
indicate how careful, how non-judging, as to indivi- 
duals, we should keep ourselves, even where such 
individuals ignore or even deny God. Yet I do think 
that the ordinary Roman Catholic teaching is after 
a very real distinction, and also that present-day 

5 8 Ear on Von 

ordinary cheery dismissal of all thought of respon- 
sibility, and even of guilt, in such denials, is but 
part and parcel of the insufferable shallowness of 

Devoted old Uncle, 

F. v. H. 


i September, 1919. 

I want this little scribble to reach you on your 
starting your packing-fortnight, my very dear Niece. 
I want to put very shortly, what has helped myself, 
so greatly, for now a generation. 

Well you are going to pack, pack and unpack, 
unpack for a fortnight. What is it that I would have 
you quietly set your mind and heart on, during that 
in itself lonesome and dreary bit of your road, Child? 
Why this, Dear! You see, all we do has a double-related- 
ness. It is a link or links of a chain that stretches back 
to our birth and on to our death. It is part of a long 
train of cause and effect, of effect and cause, in your 
own chain of life this chain variously intertwisted 
with, variously affecting, and affected by, numerous 
other chains and other lives. It is certainly your duty 
to do quietly your best, that these links may help on 
your own chain and those other chains, by packing 
well, by being a skilful packer. 

Yes, but there is also, all the time, another, a far 
deeper, a most darling and inspiring relation. Here, 
you have no slow succession, but you have each single 
act, each single moment joined directly to GOD 
Himself not a chain, but one Great Simultaneity. 

Letters to a Niece 59 

True, certain other acts, at other moments, will be 
wanted, of a kind more intrinsically near to God 
Prayer, Quiet, Holy Communion. Yet not even those 
other acts could unite you as closely to God as can 
do this packing, if and when the packing is the duty 
of certain moments, and if, and as often as, the little 
old daughter does this her packing with her heart and 
intention turned to God her Home, if she offers her 
packing as her service, that service which is perfect 

Not even a soul already in Heaven, not even an 
angel or archangel, can take your place there; for 
what GOD wants, what GOD will love to accept, in 
those Herst rooms, in those packing days, and from 
your packing hands, will be just this little packing 
performed by the little niece in those little rooms. 
Certainly it has been mainly through my realising this 
doctrine a little, and through my poor little self- 
exercising in it, that I have got on a bit, and 
Gwen will get on faster than I have done with it. 
You understand, Dear? At one moment packing; at 
another, silent adoration in church; at another, 
dreariness and unwilling drift; at another, the joys 
of human affections given and received; at another, 
keen, keen suffering of soul, of mind, in an apparent 
utter loneliness; at another, external acts of religion; 
at another, death itself. All these occupations, every one, 
can, ought, and will be, each when and where, duty, 
reason, conscience, necessity GOD calls for it it will 
all become the means and instruments of loving, of 
transfiguration, of growth for your soul, and of its 
beatitude. But it is for GOD to choose these things, 
their degrees, combinations, successions; and it is for 

60 Baron Von Hugel's 

Gwen, just simply, very humbly, very gently and 
peacefully, to follow that leading. 

Per Crucem ad Lucem. 

Loving old Uncle, 


17 September, 1919. 

Well, now, my darling Gwen, here is my letter for 
your restarting in Salisbury. I will attempt to make 
two, more or less new, points very important dis- 
criminations very clear for you, after first getting 
two immediate practical details out of the way. 

I want you, then, carefully to study all the remaining 
Latin (Roman) Christian books I have given or lent 
you in the last packets. Tell me when you are getting 
to the end of this study (the little Tertullian and the 
Swete at least twice, please!), and I will get quite ready 
for the first packet of Greek books classical (Pagan) 
Greek books first on the same scale as that we did 
the Latin books on. 

And the second detail is your proposed visit to 
Vicarage Gate excellent idea! Hillie and I get back 
there on Monday next, 22 September. I have to 
speak at a Birmingham little private meeting all 
my hearers clerics on Monday, 27 October, and 
I ought to keep at least ten days free before, for 
preparation. Your Aunt Mary has a lady friend, who 
has asked herself till about 2 October. As soon after 
this 2 October that you can manage, say, three nights 
with us, the better, as the weather will then be more 

Letters to a Niece 61 

likely to favour our getting our talks in Kensington 
Gardens than later on. If you came by lunch-time, 
and left by an afternoon train, that too would add 
to our time in common. Let Aunt Mary or Hillie or 
me know, some time pretty soon, Gwen! 

Now for my points: 

i. It is quite possible (it is certainly much the more 
common state of soul) that your now deep and living 
sense of religion is making non-religious subjects more 
or less insipid to you that you are feeling it rather a 
bore to concentrate upon Homer and Pindar, after 
Tertullian and the Confessions. But if this is so, or if 
it comes on later on, I want you, my Gwen, carefully 
to ignore, and vigorously to react against, this mentality. If 
there is one danger for religion if there is any one 
plausible, all-but-irresistible trend which, throughout 
its long rich history, has sapped its force, and prepared 
the most destructive counter-excesses, it is just that 
that allowing the fascinations of Grace to deaden or 
to ignore the beauties and duties of Nature. What is 
Nature? I mean all that, in its degree, is beautiful, 
true, and good, in this many-levelled world of the one 
stupendously rich God? Why, Nature (in this sense) 
is the expression of the God of Nature; just as Grace 
is the expression of the God of Grace. And not only 
are both from God, and to be loved and honoured as 
His: but they have been created, they are administered 
and moved, by God, as closely inter-related parts of one 
great whole of the full and vivid knowledge and 
service of Him and happiness of ourselves. No Grace 
without the substrata, the occasion, the material, of 
Nature; and (in the individuals called to the realisa- 
tion of the type) no Nature without Grace. Do you 

62 Baron Von HiigeTs 

fully grasp, my Gwen, what I am driving at? That 
I want you, just because you long for religion, to 
continue to cultivate, to cultivate more carefully and 
lovingly, also the interests, the activities, that are 
not directly religious. And this, not simply because, 
"Why, of course, we must eat our dinner; of course, 
we must have our little relaxations"; but, much more, 
because, without these not directly religious interests 
and activities, you however slowly and unperceivedly 
lose the material for Grace to work in and on. When 
we come to do the Church history of the Middle 
Ages, and of the Renaissance, etc., I shall be able to 
point out to you, on a huge scale, this great principle 
either fructifying all or sterilising all. Meanwhile, 
practise, practise it, Gwen; and keep it up, long after 
I have gone! Hardly any woman works her religion thus', 
but then, too, how thin and abstract, or how strained 
and unattractive, the religion of most women becomes, 
owing to this their elimination of religion's materials 
and divinely intended tensions! 

2. Hardly distinguishable in theory^ yet rather 
different in practice, is the other point I want you 
carefully to watch. I have so much insisted upon 
the Church in my recommendations that it may look 
inconsistent if I warn you against Church societies, 
Church newspapers the little Churchinesses which, 
I should think, must be fairly frequent in your cathedral 
town yet, my Gwen! just this, the equivalent of just 
this, has been perhaps my longest, subtlest difficulty 
and temptation, ever since, through God's mercy, 
the Church took me, and I gave myself to the Church. 
It was only when I was forty that this trouble and 
uncertainty ceased again owing to light from and 

Letters to a Niece 63 

through a saintly leader. I never have gained the 
bigger lights on myself, except that way. To love Holy 
Communion, yet tactfully, unironically, to escape from 
all Eucharistic Guilds, etc.; to care for God's work 
in the world especially in and through Christianity, 
and yet (again quite silently, with full contrary 
encouragement to others who are helped by such 
literature) never opening a Church paper or maga- 
zine; and so on, and so on: what a pushing forward 
and a sudden inhibiting back all this seems to be! 

Yet, if you are made at all like myself what safety, 
what expansion, will be yours! This, though, only if 
you have your life full of good, wholesome not tech- 
nically religious interests; and if these non-religious 
interests are more and more penetrated, warmed, 
widened, sweetened by the purest, humblest, most 
self-oblivious, homely heroism of super-nature of 
Grace in the full sense of the word. Such a life will 
also greatly help you in keeping free from what 
might make you an unnecessary stumbling-block to 
other not yet religiously awake souls; and this with- 
out the least indifference or sorry "naturalising" on 
your part. At forty I learnt this; at forty or so, my 
Gwen, learn you this also. 

I need not say that neither i nor 2 are of any 
obligation for you. They are only suggestions for you 
to watch and to see whether, and how, they fit you. 
If you cannot get forward in this fashion, by all means 
get on in the other way. I only want to clear away 
every possible half-notion that to love God, Christ, 
Church dearly, it is necessary for everyone (hence also 
for you) to be churchy. But again, Gwen, humility, con- 
sideration, patience: encouraging of others to become 

64 Baron Von Huge/'s 

quite different from ourselves; all this can alone 
render the kind of independence I mean, safe, because 
creaturely, and the isolation not fundamental or ulti- 
mate, but only one concerned with middle things, with 
means and afflictions. 

Am now weary. God bless you, Child. Be faithful, 
and He will sweeten to you, in the long run, all things, 
even bitter death itself. 

Loving old, 



My darling Gwen, 23 September, 1919. I 

Your interesting letter, awaiting my return here 
yesterday, raises important points which I will con- 
sider with you in a letter a little later on (and when 
you turn up here for one night), on 8 October. Better 
that than nothing! 

But I must at once make the following suggestions 
to you as to the five books I send you to-day. Your 
first Greek packet. They are all your property except 
one volume Bury's History of Greece. You can, if you 
like, begin at once on Homer. But I think it will be 
better to take the three histories first, and only then 
the Homer and the Hesiod. But in any case you should 
read the histories in the order: (i) Bury, (2) Gilbert 
Murray, (3) Groiset; and the texts in the order: (i) Iliad, 
(2) Odyssey, (3) Hesiod. 

Now as to these six volumes singly: 

(i) Bury. I wish I could have found another one 
volume, as recent and (for surface matters) as compe- 
tent a history of Greece, by some other more believing 

Letters to a Niece 65 

and spiritual writer. For Bury is a clever, smart, 
shallow thing is growing it more and more, and 
aggressively irreligious as well. But this book is very 
much up-to-date as to excavations the maps and 
illustrations are excellent and in it he is not so 
rampantly doctrinaire as he has since become. Per- 
haps one careful reading with notes taken from it 
will be enough keeping the book by you for further 
occasional use. 

(2) Murray. Hardly, even he, a very deep, rich soul; 
but distinctly better than Bury and has a wonderful 
penetration in the literature as such I would certainly 
read him, most carefully, at least twice. 

(3) Croiset. You will feel the charm of these French- 
men; read it twice. Have got their larger five-volume 
History ; and could at any time lend you this or that 
or all the volumes. 

(4) Iliad. I think this translation is the best for under- 
standing Homer. Pray read and re-read it all, and 
compare the parts in the ^Eneid with the corresponding 
parts here a very educative study. 

(5) Odyssey. I send the translation of that cranky 
genius S. Butler because it so wonderfully hits off 
the homey tone of the original and the maps, pictures, 
notes, are all most suggestive. But, of course, his 
contention that the author was a woman is sheer 
moonshine not very unlike Harnack's contention 
that Priscilla (with Aquila's collaboration) wrote the 
Epistle to the Hebrews. But re-read the Odyssey and 
compare carefully corresponding parts (very numerous 
and lengthy) in the ./Eneid. 

(6) Hesiod. Introduction and Works and Days at least 

66 Baron Von HugePs 

twice remainder once compare Works and Days 
carefully with Virgil's Georgics. 

Devoted old Uncle, 

F. v. H. 


My darling Gwen, 6 October, 1919. 

I write to-day, hoping that this (now the strike is 
over) may reach you to-morrow on the first anniver- 
sary of your dear father's death. I often and often 
think of him; indeed he, just as you yourself, child, 
are in my poor prayers thrice every day. And I love 
to think that, if he, in that great life beyond, is allowed 
to know what happens here below to his youngest, he 
is glad and grateful for your deep growth during this 
year thus just gone by. This growth has assuredly 
preserved, and only still further deepened, the noble 
good all the touching purity and generosity he 
taught you and he exemplified to you, indeed which, 
in a true sense, he gave you with his blood. 

I want to write now, also, because, since you cannot 
come just now (very naturally, though I am truly 
sorry), I should like to make some remarks upon quite 
a number of practical points or of questions raised by 
you since last I wrote. 

i. As to the practical points: 

(i.) Much frequentation of the cathedral. You know 
well, how greatly I love this for you. Yet there is one 
warning I would give you, and would beg you to 
bear in mind. Do not overdo it: I mean, do not take 
your utter fill, while the attraction is thus strong. 

Letters to a Niece 67 

If we want our fervour to last, we must practise 
moderation even in our prayer, even in our Quiet. 
And certainly it is perseverance in the spiritual life, 
on and on, across the years and the changes of our 
moods and trials, health and environment: it is this 
that supremely matters. And you will, Gwen, add 
greatly to the probabilities of such perseverance, if 
you will get into the way (after having settled upon 
the amount of time that will be wise for you to give 
to the cathedral, or your Prayer of Quiet in general) 
of keeping a little even beyond this time, when you 
are dry; and a little short of this time when you are 
in consolation. You see why, don't you? Already 
the Stoics had the grand double rule: abstine et sustine, 
"abstain and sustain," i.e. moderate thyself in things 
attractive and consoling, persevere, hold out, in things 
repulsive and desolating. There is nothing God loves 
better, or rewards more richly, than such double 
self-conquest as this! Whereas, all those who heed- 
lessly take their glut of pleasant things, however sacred 
these things may be, are in grave danger of soon out- 
living their fervour, even if they do not become 
permanently disgusted. 

(ii.) As to Churchy people, I did not, of course, mean 
devotedly Christian people, lovers of the Church, who 
work these loves into a large thoughtfulness. . . . 

(iii.) As to Bury's History : please, Dear, write your 
name in it, and keep it as a further gift from me: it 
will be very useful for frequent reference in most of 
your further readings of Greek things. And, Child, 
try, by very frequent looking at the coin illustrations, 
to connect the chief Greek cities with their coins. It 

68 Baron Von Hugel's 

is in that way that the geography of ancient Greece 
sticks in my head. And dull as geography, and still 
more chronology, are, when taken simply by them- 
selves yet without them without a clear framework 
of time and space in which to place and to remember 
the facts, external or interior, of the history, you will 
never remember the facts, and hence you will never 
be able yourself to reason upon, to apply the history. 
Let the coins help you very largely! 

2. As to questions: 

(i.) Shakespeare's Macbeth. I think you are right, 
and that there there is a truly Christian penetration and 
estimate. To-day week I will send you, on long loan, 
a glorious book: Bradley's Shakesperean Tragedy : Hamlet, 
Macbeth, Othello, Lear. You will love it, I am sure. 
It is a book really worthy of its subject. 

(ii.) Shorthouse's John Inglesant. I must say I feel 
that book to have but one (a truly great) greatness, as 
against three very bad faults faults which, I must 
confess, continue to spoil the pleasure I might other- 
wise find in it. The book, then, I think, has one per- 
ception, or, rather, an instinct stronger than the 
author is himself aware of I mean an all-penetrating 
sense of the massiveness, the awful reality, of the 
spiritual life within the Roman Catholic Church. This 
that he thus sees, is assuredly a fact, and a huge fact; 
but it is a fact unknown, or turned away from, or 
minimised by the large majority even of religious 
Englishmen. And I really believe that the undoubtedly 
great fascination of this book for so many serious souls, 
is just this its all-pervading sense of that very certain 
but very largely unknown fact. But then I feel that 

Letters to a Niece 69 

to one who, like myself, has lived within, has lived 
and been redeemed and been formed by that great 
life in that great Church, that discovery of Short- 
house is no discovery: if anything, such an one is 
somewhat irritated that something to him so massively 
plain, should the discovery of it stamp a book as 
quite sui generis. And then, against that strength of 
the book stand, I think, three great even if smaller, 
weaknesses, (i) The book, the man's style, indeed mind, 
are precious surely as much so as is Pater's Marius. 
All that is turned and re-turned, is cooked to my 
taste to weariness. (2) The central figure and fate in 
the book Molinos and his end are far from certainly 
what they are painted here. Possible it is that Molinos 
was innocent; I have studied the case very carefully, 
and have said so in print. But there is no certainty; 
and much too much mysticism and moral depravity 
have certainly gone together in not a few other cases. 
(3) The underlying doctrine of the book is very lop- 
sided, indeed it is false. All through a Quaker indiffer- 
ence to the visible, to Forms, to History to the Body 
in Time and Space is actively at work. Yet nothing 
is being more clearly re-proved, quite independently 
of the old institutions, by modern psychology, than 
that that independence is only possible in a world 
saturated with the results of dependence. Mysticism, 
in all religions, always comes long after those religions 
have won and trained the soul by their historic 
happenednesses, by then- close contact with time and 
space. We shall find this, my Gwen, later on, with the 
Ancient Greek, the Indian, the Jewish, the Moham- 
medan, the Christian religions. And to think like 
Shorthouse is historic ingratitude of a high degree. 

70 Baron Von Hugel's 

I find that, throughout his book, those that insist 
strongly on institutions and that fear or oppose more 
or less pure Mysticism, are all, in so far, worldings, 
power-lovers, Pharisees, etc.! Stuff" and nonsense: 
I know that this is a clumsy, false analysis; although, 
of course, there are worldlings amongst the strong 
institutionalists, as there are fanatics or moral deca- 
dents amongst the "exquisite" mystics. 

3. Dean Colet. Yes, he is a very attractive per- 
sonality, and Seebohm's book is a good book. But 
I have changed I have had to change much as to 
those Renaissance Catholic reformers these last ten 
years. My ideal used to be Sir Thomas More. I still, 
of course, admit their greatness; and I hold still, with 
all my heart, that that Reform would have been far 
better than the Protestant violences which supplanted 
it. But I now have found in detail how profoundly 
ignorant, how bigoted, were all these men, as to the 
Middle Ages they lumped these latter indiscrimi- 
nately together, as just one long six or seven centuries 
or more of utter barbarism and contemptible 
puerilities. Dante and Aquinas, Anselm, Bernard, 
the Poverello: barbarians! What a notion! The fact 
is, certainly we are all coming to know it well now 
that these men came at the fag-end of some five 
generations of Iron Middle Ages, of their dissolution; 
and they were too disgusted, too impatient, too much 
blinded by the new light and lights, to pierce through 
those 150 years, back to the Golden Middle Ages. 
The Golden Middle Age is the culmination, so far, 
of the Christian spirit as a world force and a world 
outlook; and compared with its greatest figures just 
named, even More and Colet, Fisher and Erasmus, 

Letters to a Niece 7 i 

are thin and literary indeed. This too. Sweet, you 
will be shown in detail later on. 

Now I will have to be pretty silent till October is 
at an end; have to incubate my address at Birmingham 
on 27 October. Grand if you could come here soon 

Loving old Uncle, 


From Letter of All Saints' Eve, 1919. 

My darling Niece-Child, 

Here, at last, I come to speak to you again on 
paper the work, the getting to, and the resting 
from, Birmingham have, till now, prevented me. But 
I was very glad to get that sweet little letter of yours, 
before starting off from this huge Babylon for that 
also very big place. I myself felt, once off, that I was 
attempting a great deal. Yet it all went off, I think, 
quite well. My two forenoons there I spent in the 
really beautiful Art Galleries I enclose photo post 
card of one of the pictures for my darling Gwen. But 
how much of the art of not thirty years ago, or a 
little beyond Leighton, Burne-jones especially 
has already died without repair, and why? Because 
it was precious, unmoral, at bottom un-, even anti- 
Christian (in the widest sense of the word) . One feels 
it affiliated to moral unwholesomeness. . . . 

Strange it is, but a fact, that human studies should 
more incline men to religion than natural studies; 
strange because the difficulties against religion are 
almost confined to precisely the human range. The 

72 Baron Von Hugel's 

fact is, doubtless, that religion thrives, not by the 
absence of difficulties, but by the presence, by its 
offer and proof of powers not procurable otherwise; 
and that the need for these powers, and the evidence 
for the operation of their forces, only arises clearly 
at the human level. 

Gwen, look up, look up with me, to-morrow! Oh, 
what a glorious, touching company! It is the feast 
of every heroic soul, every heroic act inspired by 
God since man began on earth. Sweet, how our little 
earthly years are fleeing by. Pindar called our life 
" the dream of a shadow." Yet in it, and through it, 
if we but watch and pray, and work and suffer, and 
rest in God our Home, we can find Eternity; that 
will never pass away. Pray for your loving old, 



My Gwen-Child, 3 December, 1919. 

Here, then, is Eternal Life. I would advise your first 
reading up to the end of page 120, twice. Then, 
pages 303 to end, twice. And only then the far more 
difficult pages 121-302, also twice. Unless I greatly 
err, you will learn a considerable amount, provided 
you understand the technicalities as they occur. I did 
not choose the title, or even my subject; but you will 
find friends, already known, in these pages St. Augus- 
tine, Huvelin, etc., not to speak of the Psalms and 
the New Testament I wrote the thing praying; read 
it as written, Child! 

Letters to a Niece 73 

I am sorry you are finding the Groiset so dry. I see 
why my fault. Those two brothers wrote a delightful, 
not dry, History of Greek Literature in the five volumes 
have got it. But I stupidly forgot how all abridgments 
are, almost always, dry as sawdust! So do not, Sweet, 
force yourself to read it through. 

Your new packet is getting ready nicely. But the 
Herodotus is reprinting just now; and I have not yet 
spotted the Bury on the Greek historians. But I have 
a good little book on Pindar ready; Pindar translated 
by Ernest Myers, and a fine selection of translations 
from the Greek Anthology if you don't love the latter 
well, you will show a patch of insensibility on your 

I well understand how delightful your father's Eton 
diaries must be; they will form an important part of 
the Life, no doubt. I love to note, Dear, that the same 
kind of spontaneous intelligence for, and thirst after 
music, and the same assumption that such intelligence 
and thirst are, must be, universal, are with you, his 
daughter, in reference to religion. Thekla has been 
telling me how marked she found a trait of genuine 
contemplation in you, Sweet. Well, it is all God's work; 
we will think of Him and love Him ever more and 
more; and we will bear as patiently as ever we can 
our loneliness in these respects. We will never feel 
badly lonely, if we keep expanding our direct knowledge 
of living lovers of God by a vivid realisation of the love 
of him borne in the hearts of souls now in the beyond. 

I am so glad you loved the Huvelin: you will have 
noticed everywhere in him that tenderness in austerity, 
and that austerity in tenderness, which is the very 
genius of Christianity. 

74 Baron Von 

Must not scribble on to-day. Have started studying 
for my book, and I require oceans of rest in between. 

Loving old Uncle-Father, 



My darling Gwen-Child, 2 January, 1920. 

I had counted upon writing my first 1920 letter to 
you; but, alas, strict duty intervened, and forced me 
to write to other three people instead. But I want you 
to look upon this scribble as though written on New 
Year's Day itself. 

I want, then, to wish you a very rich, deep, true, 
straight and simple growth in the love of God, accepted 
and willed gently but greatly, at the daily, hourly, cost 
of self . I have to try my little old best more than ever 
at this, now; for I find that any and all brooding or 
sulking or useless self-occupation any pride or vanity 
at once disturbs or dries up my incubation-work. 
Professor James Ward and I agreed, one day, that 
nothing in philosophy, still more in religion, should 
ever be attempted in and with the first clearness 
(what, e.g., journalists are content with, and have to 
be content with), but in and with the second clearness, 
which only comes after that first cheery clarity has 
gone, and has been succeeded by a dreary confusion 
and obtuseness of mind. Only this second clearness, 
rising up, like something in no wise one's own, from 
the depths of one's subconsciousness only this is any 
good in such great matters. And this process is costly, 
humiliating, and very easily disturbed by rubbishy 

Letters to a Niece 7 5 

I am so glad you are trying to work the Imitation 
into your life: it is the only way to read it which is 
really worthy of what itself is so intensely alive. Now 
there is a book written as should be all religious books; 
they should be the quintessence of a long experience 
and fight in suffering and self-transformation. Also 
the twenty Huvelin sayings they sprang straight from 
a life penetrated by God and the deepest love of Him. 
I will, a little later on, copy out for you another 
twenty sayings they are all, please God, at work 
within me; and how happy, if they can get to work 
in the Niece-child also! 

As to my Apocalyptic Element, keep it as long as you 
feel re-reading it can help you. I have two or three 
other papers which may also be of use to you. But, 
you see, with religious reading I always feel the 
situation is different from more ordinary reading. 
I mean that religious reading should always be select, 
slow, ruminating, and given to comparatively few 
books or papers. So we will, when you are again 
ready, get on with our Greek things plenty of them 
and, alongside, and behind them all, will be our 
few deepest readings, full of prayer, full of self-humilia- 
tion, full of gentle attempts gently to will whatever 
suffering God may kindly send us. A Jesuit novice 
once told me, with kindling countenance, how grand 
he had found the practice of at once meeting suffering 
with joy. God alone can help us succeed in this; but 
what. Child, is Christianity, if it be not something 
like that? 

Loving old, 


76 Baron Von Hugel's 


My darling Child, Shrove Tuesday. 

I want this letter to reach you on Ash Wednesday> 
when we all start Lent, because there is one little 
practice I should like to dwell upon for a minute, in 
case you have not yet waked up to it, or that you 
require, perhaps, a little encouragement in it. I mean 
the practice of some little voluntary renunciation. 
I know well, of course, my Gwen, how much vague 
and airy wisdom oozes out of the comfortable and 
shallow modern mind about this. But then you see, 
we have the little (!) examples of the Baptist in the 
wilderness, with his wild honey and locusts meal; 
Our Lord's Fast of forty days; St. Paul's mastery of 
his body; and really, without a break, the asceticism 
of all the great saints. I say this not to suggest anything 
special in your food, sleep or dress; and as to the 
amount of church, half an hour a day will be enough, 
and it would be unwise to add to it, even in Lent. 
But I am thinking of something without thinking 
what that would correspond, say, to my not buying 
any books for myself during Lent. Depend upon it, 
such little self-checks checks on good propensions, 
and checks self-imposed where they spring from 
love, really feed love. They are good things and still 
useful to your spiritual growth. 

Loving old, 



My darling Child, 20 February, 1920. 

You will by now have already got those two big 

Letters to a Niece 77 

tomes of mine. 1 May you find sufficient that you 
really understand, or can get to understand, to make 
your study of them spiritually fruitful. The book has 
been out of print some four years now; but this copy 
is really (barring the wrappers) still quite fresh; it 
was quite uncut-open yesterday; it is I who cut it 
open for you, Sweet! Bishop Gore, who has been very 
kind about the book, pointed out several grave defects 
in it. That the style is often heavy, sometimes slipshod; 
that there is too much of quotation, or semi-quotation 
in it; and that the narration portion is without any 
narrative charm. I am sure he is right about all three 
points. But I feel him wrong about a fourth objection 
of his: that I ought to have taken a fully normal saint, 
like St. Teresa, and not a person so difficult to know, 
so unusual, and more or less out of the way even in 
her natural character, as is this Fiesca. He is wrong, 
because I wanted precisely such a figure for my 
special purposes. I wanted a heroic Christian who 
was almost a Neo-Platonist, an Institutional who, in 
some ways, hung loosely on institutions; a deep thinker 
beset with much psycho-physical disturbance, etc. 
Similarly Professor Boyce-Gibson was, I feel, mistaken, 
when he wanted the book to have finished the first 
volume with the death of Ettore Vernazza. He did 
not see that I was well aware of the inferiority, at 
least in charm, of Battista to Catherine, to Ettore. 
What then? I was not aiming at a work of art, but 
at taking in as much as possible of real life to show 
very original and exquisite spirituality having to live 
on largely in this rough world, to get somewhat con- 
ventionalified to suit the array of even very good 

1 The Mystical Element in Religion, 

Baron Von Hugel's 

people. Of course, that Bishop Gore and Professor ' 
Boyce-Gibson did not see these two motives of mine 
in the book itself, proves how little an artist in words 
the old Uncle is! 

I think you would find the Appendix at end of 
Volume I. too dry and hard for you. But I hope that 
you will really care for, and learn from, the Introduc- 
tion and the whole of Volume II. It is chapter ii. 
(in the Introduction) that has had much the most of 
the appreciation accorded to the book; but, for myself, 
I feel as though Volume II. was the best of the whole. 

My Sweet, you were thoroughly right about Richard 
his unripeness for Tiele I am sure I often make 
that sort of mistake for the young. 

Your simile, your example of the two clearances in 
musical execution is capital. So glad of it, too, because 
it shows you are getting well into your violining again. 
Am surrounded by the middle state the obscurity 
and muddle as regards my book. One must just 
work on and hope and pray. The God of light will 
help us. 



From Letter of 5 March, 1920. 

My darling Gwen-Child, 

I was so sorry that you had a headache when you 
wrote me that last note. Mind you do not use your 
head on any concentrated work when you are like 
that. . . . 

But I was very pleased that somehow you are able 
to resume the systematic non-religious reading. I was 

Letters to a Niece 79 

a little astonished at this, having thought, regretfully, 
that your life had really become too full for such 
reading. This notion of mine explains that I was not, 
on the receipt of your note, ready with further Greek 
books for just this stage of your reading. 

I wondered too, for a moment, whether you had 
not possibly forgotten, or had not yet explored, the 
other Pindar book I sent you. I got you this later 
booklet, just because I knew well how much the 
reading of Pindar becomes really enjoyable, the back- 
ground of which you speak. I thought this booklet 
would supply this environment; anyhow I at once 
ordered for you an excellent book, The Athletic Festivals 
of Ancient Greece. But I learn it is out of print. I have 
now, however, gone one better and ordered you 
Whitley's Companion to Greek Studies, which will not 
only illustrate Pindar for you, but also the Historians, 
and the Dramatists, indeed the Philosophers also, 
I hope. I think I can count on having this fine book 
on Monday. . . . 

The packet will contain three further books: 

2. The Extant Odes of Pindar, translated by Ernest 
Myers; a scholarly piece of work which I should like 
you to read, ode for ode, each after the translation 
of Sandys. 

3. ... a. Guide to British Museum Greek and Roman Life. 

4. ... a Guide to the Principal Gold and Silver Coins 
of the Ancients, 700 B.C. to A.D. /. 

When we have fully and repeatedly assimilated 
Pindar (mind you also read Andre Bremond's article 
on him) we will move on to the Greek Historians. 
I shall want you to get to first love Herodotus. We 

8o Baron Von HugeTs 

will do him in a leisurely, sun-basking way which 
alone befits this leisurely genial soul. 

I am sure that when, say twenty years hence, you 
look back upon your life, you will specially thank 
God for this double current I have tried to establish 
in your mind and soul. The current directly religious 
this very pure in quality and genially costly; the 
current not directly religious, this also very large and 
deep a great bucket of pure water into which to 
drop drops of the purest religious wine. This greatly 
helps us to escape all reactions. 

Loving old Uncle, 


My darling Child, 17 March, 1920. 

I do not at all like these bad headaches of yours, 
and the suspicion that perhaps it is the fiddling that 
causes them. I should indeed grieve if you had to give 
up what so uniquely expresses your true self. I am 
comforting myself by hoping that, even if it really is 
the violining, it is that only in the sense that you are 
paying for the acclimatising of your nerves, etc., to 
this large, now new, life; and that, by dodging the 
headaches and wisely persevering in between them, 
you may be able to end by adapting your physical 
conditions to it or again you might have to reduce 
the playing for a while, say, to two hours a day, instead 
of four hours. I hope that, in any case, my little old 
Gwen daughter will strive elastically to manage the 
fiddling after all. There is certainly a great art in 
managing one's nervous energy. I have myself, all 

Letters to a Niece 8 1 

my life, had to coax, and by various circumvendifuges, 
get my work out of my restive kittle-cattle machinery. 
Glad Olivia does the types of Greek coins with 
you I have no ambition for you to take up numis- 
matics generally whole tracts of that country seem 
to me hardly more soul-feeding than postage stamps. 
It is the Greek coins that really are educative not 
as coins but Greek, as part of that marvellous people's 
artistic creations. Had Richard here on Monday 
looking forward to having him for a night soon. I feel 
you treat that very promising lad exactly rightly. 

Your loving old, 



My darling Gwen-Child, 26 March, 1920. 

A hundred, a thousand welcomes, of nature and of 
grace, of the sweet spring country, of the future 
delightful garden, of the spacious, almost empty, 
bedroom full, full, Gwen, of the thought, the pre- 
sence, the real presence of the living God, and of the 
little old church so nearby, which will always welcome 
you to its sacred coolness and dimness, and remind 
you of God's condescensions in the Incarnation and 
Holy Eucharist! Welcome, too, from those nice, ten 
workmen such an excellent experience for those three! 
Welcome, too, from those said three how soon all 
three will be there, and how soon after they will have 
come really to feel this home at last, all the more so 
since they will themselves help to make it all really 
homey! Welcome, too, from Edward Talbot, the cleric 

82 Baron Von HugePs 

who has helped you so much and also will so much 
care to see your settlement. 

I am so pleased, too, that you have evidently got 
fully bitten by Pindar, that that grandly clean and 
religious mind is colouring your own. Bravo! 

I received back from you, all right, the Gardner 
Types of Greek Coins the Butcher, the catalogue of 
Greek gems (glad you admired that wonderful Augustus 
cameo!), and Andre Bremond's raper on Pindar, and 
my two articles on Troeltsch (I expect the poor little 
Gwen found these really too hard to read). By all 
means keep those other four papers of mine yet awhile. 

I spoke on Tuesday evening last (23rd) to some 
sixty students from all the English, Scotch, Welsh 
and Irish universities and chief colleges. The Execu- 
tive Council of the Christian Student Movement 
very eager, cultivated, religious young people. I spoke 
for forty-five minutes on "Responsibility and Religious 
Belief." Now I am busy writing out suggestions and 
criticisms for a new sketch of that striking Sikh convert 
to Christianity, Sadhu-Sundar-Singh. My chief desi- 
deratum here is that he should come to realise not 
only the utility, but the strict necessity, of definite 
Church appurtenance and ecclesiastical subordination. 
You see, a month after his conversion at sixteen, he 
felt called to, and took, the vow of the Sadhu life 
the Indian ascetical, celibate, poor, wandering life 
which he now took as that of a Christian preaching 
friar. He has faithfully practised this to now (twenty- 
nine). But even the slight Church appurtenance which 
sprang from his baptism by the Anglican Metropolitan 
of India, and his six months' study in an Anglican 
theological college, with a preaching licence granted 

Letters to a Niece 83 

him at the end even that he soon repudiated to the 
great joy of the Nonconformist individualist mis- 
sionaries of India. I am trying to show how crude, 
how without solid Christian precedents is such a 
monasticism, with such a sheer aloofness from every 
Church organisation. I am trying to drive home 
St. Teresa's magnificent rule for all her own life and 
for that of her nuns to this day that she believed 
herself to have received very real direct revelations, 
and that she hoped her nuns might receive the same. 
But that never had she allowed herself, or were they to 
allow themselves, under the apparent suggestion of 
any revelation, to decide anything concerning their 
duties, work, appurtenances, dependants. On the 
contrary, the genuineness of the revelations, or at 
least the right use made of them, would always have 
to be measured by the increased obedience, self-oblivion, 
love of enemies, suffering death, of the recipient of 
such favours. 

God bless you, child. 



My darling Gwen, 5 April, 1920. 

I was so glad to get your first Old Rectory letter of 
30 March. But first let me say that I have purposely 
waited till we should have got through these every 
year newly wonderful Church days so as to be able 
to refer to the entire prism of many-coloured fact and 
emotion which only thus together give us the true 
Christian reality and life. The great fact, and even 

84 Baron Von HfigePs 

the commemoration of, Good Friday, would, alone, 
be too austere, too heartbreaking; the great fact, and 
even just the feast of Easter, if alone even if they had 
followed upon Our Lord's Hidden Life, or even His 
Preaching, but without the Passion and its commemora- 
tion, would not have drained the Cup the bitter 
Cup of the possibilities of earthly human life and 
earthly human interconnection to the dregs. Good 
Friday and Easter Sunday, the two together, each 
requiring the other, and we all requiring both only 
this twin fact gives us Christianity, where suffering 
holds a necessary place, but never the place of the 
end, always only of the means. My great Troeltsch 
always marvels anew at that unique combination 
effected by Christianity so earnest and so wwrigoristic 
so expansive and so full of suffering without morbid- 
ness, and of joy without sentimentality. We will all, 
please God, see this more and more every year, that 
these bitter-sweet, contraction - expansion, sacrifice 
serenity, great days come round. 

Oh, how, next to one's prayers and the practice 
of the Presence of God, one's work, my absorption in 
the mornings in my book its immediate preparation 
and composition, helps one to limit, to ignore and 
bear one's load. 

I am now deep in section i of the body of the book, 
but dare not yet write any of this till I see more 
clearly, more vividly, the main points and lines of 
my position. It is Kant especially I have to master, as 
to contend with the section on him in Eternal Life 
may have given you some fair notion of him. 

Letters to a Niece 85 


21 April, 1920. 

Here at last, my Gwen-child, I come to my scribbling 
to you! I have four letters of yours three of them long. 
But I think they give me chiefly one big subject-matter 
for consideration the stress of dryness and darkness, 
and what to do then. I know oh, well, well what 
that means. And I do not doubt that with your special 
temperament, such times must be peculiarly trying. 
But mark this well. Child irreplaceably profitable. If 
you but gently persevere through them, you will 
come out at the other end of the gloom, sooner or 
later, into ever deeper, tenderer day. 

Let me give you three images, all of which have 
helped me on along "many a flinty furlong." At 
eighteen I learnt from Father Raymond Kecking, 
that grandly interior-minded Dominican, that I cer- 
tainly could, with God's grace, give myself to Him, 
and strive to live my life long with Him and for Him. 
But that this would mean winning and practising much 
desolation that I would be climbing a mountain 
where, off and on, I might be enveloped in mist for 
days on end, unable to see a foot before me. Had 
I noticed how mountaineers climb mountains? how 
they have a quiet, regular, short step on the level it 
looks petty; but then this step they keep up, on and 
on, as they ascend, whilst the inexperienced townsman 
hurries along, and soon has to stop, dead beat with 
the climb. That such an expert mountaineer, when 
the thick mists come, halts and camps out under some 
slight cover brought with him, quietly smoking his 

86 Baron Von 

pipe, and moving on only when the mist has cleared 

Then in my thirties I utilised another image, learnt 
in my Jesuit Retreats. How I was taking a long journey 
on board ship, with great storms pretty sure ahead of 
me; and how I must now select, and fix in my little 
cabin, some few but entirely appropriate things a 
small trunk fixed up at one end, a chair that would 
keep its position, tumbler and glass that would do 
ditto: all this, simple, strong, and selected throughout 
in view of stormy weather. So would my spirituality 
have to be chosen and cultivated especially in view 
of "dirty" weather. 

And lastly, in my forties another image helped me 
they all three are in pretty frequent use still! I am 
travelling on a camel across a huge desert. Windless 
days occur, and then all is well. But hurricanes of 
wind will come, unforeseen, tremendous. What to do 
then? It is very simple, but it takes much practice to 
do well at all. Dismount from the camel, fall prostrate 
face downwards on the sand, covering your head with 
your cloak. And lie thus, an hour, three hours, half 
a day: the sandstorm will go, and you will arise, and 
continue your journey as if nothing had happened. The 
old Uncle has had many, many such sandstorms. How 
immensely useful they are! 

You see, whether it be great cloud-mists on the 
mountain-side, or huge, mountain-high waves on the 
ocean, or blinding sandstorms in the desert: there is 
each time one crucial point to form no conclusions, 
to take no decisions, to change nothing during such 
crises, and especially at such times, not to force any 
particularly religious mood or idea in oneself. To turn 

Letters to a Niece 87 

gently to other things, to maintain a vague, general 
attitude of resignation to be very meek, with oneself 
and with others: the crisis goes by, thus, with great 
fruit. What is a religion worth which costs you nothing? 
What is a sense of God worth which would be at 
your disposal, capable of being comfortably elicited 
when and where you please? It is far, far more God 
who must hold us, than we who must hold Him. And 
we get trained in these darknesses into that sense of 
our impotence without which the very presence of 
God becomes a snare. 

As to your feeling the facts of life and of religion 
complicated that would be, I expect, in any oppressive 
way, only during such desolations. Yet I want to note 
this point for you viz. that though I believe your 
Confessions and Imitation (with Psalms and New 
Testament), and the Church Service, do not strain 
you, nor, I think, my letters written specially for 
yourself, I am not at all sure of my writings in this 
respect. I mean that they are the writings of, I believe, 
a masculine mind that they contain far more sheer 
thinking than is suited to a woman even a woman 
with as rarely much intellect as yourself, Child. This 
is why I was slow to give or to lend you my writings. 
Yet I did so, because I want you to feel that there is 
also much hard thinking, much unpettifying of the 
great lesson which God's world and work convey if 
we can and do front them fairly. I wanted you, even 
in times of temptation, to feel the realities you were 
called to, perhaps straining at times even apparently 
mere illusions but not cramping, not petty. You can 
thus settle quietly into your little cabin with the huge 
billows buffeting you, the ship: their size has not 

88 Baron F^on HugePs 

been minimised: they are huge: well, God is in the 
storm as in the calm! But, of course, I am deeply glad 
the sunshine and calm are back again. And certainly 
these, and these at their utmost, are intended for our 
eventual life! 

Par passage penible 

Passons a port plaisant, 

carved a prisoner on to the wall of his cell, during his 
long imprisonment in the White Tower of the Tower 
of London. That is just it; both are true, both are facts: 
the penible of the passage, and the plaisant oh, its 
grand expanse of the port. 

As to Olivia's English literature I enclose the list 
of Selections I was thinking of from the 1913 catalogue 
of the Clarendon Press; they will be costing now, 
not fourpence but sixpence, I expect. Am so glad 
I was made to learn a lot by heart as a boy; Olivia 
might do the same from out of these excellent 

Mr. Clement Webb is to preside at my address at 
Oxford on 1 6 May: so that I shall be sitting under an 
old and very tactful friend. My book preparations 
are getting on, and help me to forget the financial 


i May, 1920. 

Here I come at last, darling Child mine, with one 
of my longer scribbles! 

First, as to the books sent this morning four all 

(i) Herodotus two volumes. The translation is 

Letters to a Niece 89 

excellent, and the notes very good. You must get to 
love, love that genial creature a sort of prose Greek 
Chaucer, a man with a genius for telling a story, and 
with a deep sense of religion too. You will find Book II. 
(Egypt) quite delightful, most interesting. Why not 
do that most thoroughly, with Olivia? hitching it on 
to the Egyptian history learnt at school? 

It is, however, a grave error to treat Herodotus as 
a genial old crony where he describes countries and 
customs seen by himself, and events lived through by 
himself, he is most accurate, most reliable e.g. Egypt 
and the Graeco-Persian War. 

(2) British Museum Guide to the Egyptian Collection. 
One of Dr. Wallis Budge's admirable books. Every 
word is worth considering, with the pictures as 
companion to Herodotus, Book II. 

- (3) Thucydides (mind thatjy, please!), The Sicilian 
Expedition. This is perhaps the finest, certainly the 
most rounded-ofF thing of Thucydides. Mind you 
study it most carefully twice every word at least! 
The maps at the end, your occasional atlas, the Little 
Classical Antiquities the coin book. All would help to 
make it all live and real the only way to study 

(4) Thucydides the Speeches in Jowett's translation. 
I should have liked to give you a complete translation. 
But the complete Jowett costs too much for just now. 
Besides it will be better if you first master the Sicilian 
Expedition part and these glorious speeches. Later on 
we can tackle the whole from cover to cover. 

Of course, in the Thucydides Speeches you will look 
out technical terms in your Antiquities, and before 

90 Baron Von HUgel's 

tackling either Herodotus or Thucydides you will 
read up carefully what Gilbert Murray says about 
them in his Greek Literature. 

Next as to Oxford. I was there three days. I had 
much the biggest audience I have ever had till this 
I had 250 at most, this must have been some eight or 
nine hundred. They were very attentive. I suppose 
four-fifths undergraduates. Richard only three benches 
off, smiling and most keen all the time; I felt it was 
a great support to see a good many senior faces there 
which I knew well. But, besides, I always remember, 
on such occasions, what Socrates said so sensibly to 
his disciples preparing for public speaking, that even 
the biggest audience is, after all, only composed of 
individuals and of small groups, whom they would 
have no fear at all to address. Also I find it important 
never to read, always to speak my things, to take care 
to have humorous stories and not too great intervals; 
and to manage little pauses, starting afresh in a different 
voice. After the fifty-five-minutes-long address was 
over, some two hundred and fifty people, almost all 
undergraduates, came across to Queen's College 
Common Room, and I had there, for an hour, to 
answer some ten questions written down for me, from 
the spoken queries. Only two or three were at all 
good, I thought; but still such answerings do help to 
drive points into people's heads. I felt it profoundly 
un-Protestant, but was pleased to feel that its central 
point no thoughtful High Church Anglican would 
deny. It had an edge, but not against Anglicanism 
against Lutheranism; and yet I knew that at least 
one keen Lutheran was listening, hoping, I am sure, 
that I would turn out too superfine for the kind of 

Letters to a Niece 91 

stuff, my Gwen, which I had to speak if I would 
be truthful at all. 

My last two hours were spent with Richard who 
did the honours of his pretty little sitting-room very 
zealously. He went and bought for the tea a fine 
chocolate cake. 

He looked such a fine, large, clean, straight lad, as 
he swung along the road by my side, without coat, 
hat or umbrella in spite of showers and only his 
gown rolled up round his neck and shoulders. I was 
a bit surprised to hear a "No" to all my games 
questions cricket, football 

I get the impression of a considerable dash of your 
father of his simplicity and impulsiveness and of a 
streak of the Irishman, which, of course, he gets from 
his other side. A streak which tends to make him 
intolerant and absolute about people and which 
might lead to breaches and conflicts. But the lad is 
clean and sound, and loves his mother dearly. 

This time at Oxford has once more most vividly 
impressed me with the extraordinary greater happi- 
ness of the adult or even of the latter life soul: the 
soul's life is, or at least can be, then so out of all pro- 
portion fuller, richer, steadier, deeper than any young 
thing can possibly attain. But how pathetic this makes 
them! I told them in my address that I did not believe 
humility was for young people at all. They, necessarily, 
knew, had done, had experienced so little that they 
could not yet know their immense limitations and 
deficiencies. I do not say this of Richard because he 
seems to me a modest lad. 



92 Baron Von Hugel's 

Child of my Heart, 4 May, 1920. 

Have just had your pathetic little lines. I too am 
overwhelmed with work. And your and my work is 
just the same, if we learn to do it simply for God, simply 
as, here and now, the one means of growing in love for 
Him. To-day it is cooking, scrubbing; to-morrow it 
may be utterly different: death itself will come in due 
time, but, before it, still many a joy and many a 
training. We will gently practise a genial concentra- 
tion upon just the one thing picked out for us by God. 
How this helps! How greatly we add to our crosses by 
being cross with them! More than half our life goes 
in weeping for things other than those sent us. Yet it 
is these things, as sent, and when willed and at last 
loved as sent, that train us for Home, that can form a 
spiritual Home for us even here and now. 

The Fiorettfs chapters are each complete in itself. 
Five minutes would give you rich food. And didn't 
St. Francis know such troubles as yours bigger than 
yours, and didn't he just rise to them in all transforming 

Of course, Child, I love you, as much, I do believe, 
as though I were your bodily father it is as though 
that Great heart, your Father in God's other true 
world, had been allowed, and had loved, to touch 
my heart for you. 

To-morrow I am sixty-eight, yet, thank God,, I feel 
fresh and young in soul. 


Child of my old Heart, . . . 
The wise way to fight antipathies is never to fight 

Letters to a Niece 93 

them directly turn gently to other sights, images, 
thoughts, etc. If it the hate persists, bear it gently 
like a fever or a toothache do not speak to it better 
not speak of it even to God. But gently turn to Him 
your love and life, and tell Him gently that you want 
Him and all of Him: and that you beg for courage 
whilst He thus leaves you dressed, or seeing yourself 
dressed, in what you do not want to endorse as a will 
decision, but only as purgation if so He wills. It is an 
itch scratching makes it worse. Away out into God's 
great world even if your immediate landscape is 
just your unlovely antipathies. 

Pray for your Uncle to become very, very humble 
to disappear from one's own sight with just God 
and souls; and one's little self one of these souls; how 
glorious that would be. 

Delighted you love St. C.: how real she was! 

Loving old Uncle, 


Darling Gwen-Child, 10 August, 1920. 

I want, though a bit late, to go over with you the 
points the nooks and corners of your Odstock 
environment and life. . . . And I want to finish up 
by a good story or two and some facts, that may 
awaken and amuse still further your anyhow lively 

As to Odstock, I greatly loved seeing, actually 
living for a day with you, in that precise concrete 
time and space condition in and through which my 
child has to grow into Eternity and God the Ever 

94 Baron Von HiigePs 

Abiding. I so much cared for the Old Yew Inn, and 
the genial old owner, who made himself very pleasant 
to me as he drove me down towards the ever-graceful 
spire of the cathedral, with his old, rather weary, 
white pony. An excellent thing, having such a man 
and such a conveyance for yourself and the children. 
. . . Then I loved your room and, during that hour 
or more I was there, I felt it was peopled with the 
crowds of wholesome, peaceful apprehensions of the 
Gwen-child. How it was here especially that Christ 
and God helped and would help to turn isolation or 
crowdedness, natural over-vehemence, pain, per- 
plexity, pleasure and joy all all into gold, into love 
of God and gradual assimilation to Himself. I was 
especially glad to see that Crucifix there. Let people 
say what they will, there never existed, there will 
never exist, a symbol so deep, so comprehensive, so 
realist and yet so ideal, of our august religion as 
just simply the Crucifix. I once read an address by 
the late Dean Stanley, in which that brilliant super- 
ficiality denounced the Crucifix as a mediaeval skull- 
and - crossbones grotesqueness, and contrasted this 
morbid extravagance with the poetry and smiling 
restraint of the Catacombs and their symbols Christ 
as Orpheus, Christ as Good Shepherd, etc. As if the 
admitted absence of the Crucifix there did not spring 
from two very certain causes only the fear of giving 
the Pagans any clear clue as to which is meant for 
Christ (lest such acutely hostile Pagans should there- 
upon deface or otherwise dishonour the image); and, 
again, the fear lest those early, not yet traditionally 
rooted Roman Christians, should have their faith 
strained rather than strengthened by the presenta- 

Letters to a Niece 95 

tion of God hanging on the (Roman) gallows gallows 
these (the Gross) which were employed only upon 
slaves runaway or the like canaille. 

And lastly, child, I so loved your little dim pre- 
Reformation church so quiet and so devotional, so 
placed as though made specially for Gwen. There you 
can so well practise your institutionalism, your Holy 
Communions; but also your special Recollections, 
your Prayer of Quiet, and your praying for us all. 
How I shall love it, if any keen trouble or deep joy 
coming to you, you can and do run thither, whilst 
it all is thus keen, to give it to, to share it with God 
Christ! It is in that precise environment, by means 
of those aids that you, Blessing, can and will become 
deep and darling, humble and holy. There is simply 
no obstacle, given God's grace and a good will, and for 
these we will try and make our whole lives a prayer. 

Loving old Father-Uncle, 

F. v. Hiigel. 


From Letter of 31 August, 1920. 
My own darling Gwen, 

Here I have a fine lot of things to talk to you about. 
Two from you and three from myself. . . . 

I am struck too at how the little regarded, the very 
simple, unbrilliant souls souls treated by impatient 
others as more or less wanting, are exactly pretty often 
specially enlightened by God and specially near to 
Him. And there, no doubt, is the secret of this striking 
interconnection between an apparent minimum of 

96 Baron Von Hugel's 

earthly gifts and a maximum of heavenly light. The 
cause is not that gifts of quick-wittedness, etc., are bad, 
or are directly obstacles to Grace. No, no. But that 
quite ordinary intelligence real slowness of mind 
will quite well do as reflections of God's light, and that 
such limitations are more easily accompanied by 
simplicity, naiveness, recollection, absence of self- 
occupation, gratefulness, etc., which dispositions are 
necessary for the soul's union with God. Such souls 
more easily approach action and more easily escape 

A wonderful thoughtful friend insisted to me that 
the soul's health and happiness depended upon a 
maximum of zest and as little as possible of excite- 
ment. est is the pleasure which comes from thoughts, 
occupation, etc., that fit into, that are continuous, 
applications, etc., of extant habits and interests of a 
good kind duties and joys that steady us and give 
us balance and centrality. Excitement is the pleasure 
which comes from breaking loose, from fragmentari- 
ness, from losing our balance and centrality. Zest is 
natural warmth excitement is fever heat. For zest 
to be relished requires much self-discipline and 
recollection much spaciousness of mind: whereas 
the more distracted we are, the more racketed and 
impulse-led, the more we thirst for excitement and 
the more its sirocco air dries up our spiritual sap and 
makes us long for more excitement. . . . 

And that "side-shows" queer things religiously that 
what is not central, sober, balanced, may indeed still 
help certain souls in certain ways; but that, for ourselves, 

Letters to a Niece 97 

we should carefully eschew being drawn into attending 
to them, and thus weakening our own centrality. 

But my Gwen-child will feed upon zest and zest- 
bringing things, she will more and more become so 
central that even if she lives thirty years more than 
this old scribbler, she will be able with little or no 
human encouragement to escape excitement, lop- 
sidedness, oddity, etc. . . . 

I write perhaps too emphatically because I am just now 
suffering over a very bad lurch of a woman I know well 
a strange bit of sheer thirst for change at any price; of 
the weakness I have learnt sorrowfully to be prepared 
suddenly to come up against, in almost any woman. 

My own first point brings up once more a matter 
we have often considered, but which I do not think 
we can ever get too much cleared up. A friend of 
mine, whom I have known for forty-five years, died 
some days back, at seventy-six without any traceable 
shred of religion (at least in the ordinary sense of the 
word). He was a man of finely clean life, full of 
philanthropy, genuine and costly, a cultivated man, 
a scholar, also a man of naturally religious temper. 
It is certainly impossible to know the depths of any 
soul: yet certain points are once more clear to me, 
over this further case that the agnostic tempest 
which roared between say 1855 and 1875 was so 
violent, that no wonder quick-witted lads went under, 
many, many of them. That even so, the finer ones 
managed to retain much that was high and right 
even that was touchingly Christian but that they 
owed this, not to Agnosticism, but to the Christian 
faith, the tradition from which they had broken away 
less than they themselves thought. And finally that, 

98 Baron Von Hugel's 

not only did they show faults or limitations who 
does not? but that these limitations were readily 
traceable to their Agnosticism. (I could easily draw 
out the details of this in my friend.) 


A matter of great delight to me just now is a charming, 
most gentlemanly and cultivated young Japanese, who 
speaks French and capital English, and who reads 
difficult German books with ease a definite, indeed 
fervent, Christian a Roman Catholic, who is finishing 
his training for a Japanese Government (University) 
Professorship of Philosophy. I am having a long talk 
with him once a week. He mourns to me over the 
intense materialism of his race and country, and 
evidently feels keenly the need for the whole poor 
modern world (aped by the Japs) to return to its 
senses to God and the spiritual life as the true end of 
man. He wants to be helped find the best means of 
commending Christianity to such, at bottom, thorough 
Easterns. But I want to concentrate rather upon getting 
him to feel and to pursue still more precisely and 
vividly than he does, the special genius, the driving 
force of Christianity. I feel him that very, very rare 
combination much intellect and still more soul! Pray 
for him, and for the Loving old, 

Fatherly Thing. 


4 October, St. Francis's Day, 1920. 

My ever darling Gwen-Child, 

Here I am, at last, once more scribbling to you! 
I have really not missed a single day on which I could 

Letters to a Niece 99 

have done so. First, there was the getting ready for 
Oxford a big business, because one of us four paper 
givers delayed everything by his absence abroad; then 
returned to England to say that now (some changes 
having occurred while news could not reach him) he 
could not, and would not, join in; then let another 
man write a paper in his stead; and then when this 
poet thing had actually printed his hurried contribu- 
tion, paff! came back into the game and gave us a 
(fifth) paper after all! Then last week was very full 
with Oxford our five little speeches, each one about 
his own paper, and as to what he agreed and disagreed 
with in the other four papers this on Sunday, 26 
September, with Mr. Balfour in the chair and speaking 
also, when we five had spoken. / made the first little 
speech, but spoke, I was told, too fast and too shortly. 
Then came a French professor, a good friend of mine, 
a fervent Roman Catholic. The little speech was ex- 
cellent in its substance, but, it was generally thought, 
too mathematically demonstrative in method and tone. 

Then followed Professor S , the man who had led 

us such a life able but very unsatisfactory has, 
somehow, quite lost the sense of what religion is, and 
of why we so greatly need religion. Then came Prin- 
cipal Jacks, head of the Unitarian College in Oxford, 
who, on our subject, "The Relation between Morals 
and Religion," had distressed me, by printing in 
his paper that a belief in a Beloved Community (=a 
Church without God) was quite equivalent, as a 
motive for morality, to faith in God. In his speech 
Dr. Jacks was chiefly busy with that very vague, 
Pantheistic thinker, Professor Wildon Carr, and thus 
busy in a smart journalistic sort of way. And finally 

ioo Baron Von HugePs 

came this Professor Wildon Carr very thin, very 
abstract, a good bit hurt with Dr. Jacks. Mr. Balfour's 
speech was beautiful. All morality, in the precise 
degree of its depth and truth, consists in a continuous 
and an increasing sacrifice of lower motives for higher 
and ever higher motives. Yet we cannot, we do not, 
make such great searching sacrifices for nothing, into 
the blue. We make them, we can make them, only for 
reality; and the highest motive, love, demands and 
finds that Reality to be the highest possible Reality, 
love, God. Hurrah! 

It had been planned that then objections would be 
raised to these six speeches; and that each of the six 
speakers would have ten minutes for reply. But nothing 
of this came about. For two Frenchmen now managed 
to break in the one to explain and defend the non- 
religious moral teaching in the French State school; 
the other to try and show that, at all times, the French 
State schools had taught a Positivism. Especially this 
last, a tiny little man, was interminable, and quietly 
continued his exposition twice after Mr. Balfour had 
pulled him up for being beyond the time allotted to 
us all. This meeting lasted three hours. Then on 
Monday and Tuesday I saw many friends and new 
acquaintances, mostly connected with the Congress. 
And then on Tuesday evening my great friend, 
Professor Kemp Smith of Edinburgh, came home here 
with me for two nights. The two full days of his stay 
required all my strength for my talks with him a 
large, religious soul as well as a highly-trained intellect. 

He said a number of striking things. That the age 
of the largest spiritual mortality amongst men was 
in middle life. That he had first been struck with this 

Letters to a Niece 101 

when a great gathering of all its past and present 
students took place at Princeton University, U.S.A. 
You had to pass over the young men, some of whom, 
indeed, looked unsettled, uncertain, but not lost to 
faith and heroism, and to move on to the men in their 
forties: and, alas, how many self-centred, dried-up, 
all-to-pieces, cynical countenances! Then what pierc- 
ing insight into souls he has got! He talked of a culti- 
vated, clean-lived ex-Roman Catholic priest whom 
I also know, and whom the average man would, I think, 
never feel to be anything but all right: "Why, the man 
is all to pieces: the wish-wash of the newspapers 
progress, etc. is all he knows or believes. All true 
insight is gone." Then, too, this: "More and more 
I am coming to see that the chief source of errors is 
subjectivism, is distrust of, disbelief in, the natural, 
normal intimations of our senses, of our reason, of 
our conscience, of our religious sense." And when I 
told him (brought up a Presbyterian) of how one of 
the members of our "Religion" Society had recently 
asked to be allowed to appear as a "D" "Detached," 
because he had ceased to find any use whatsoever, 
for himself, in churches, sacraments, etc.: he, Kemp 
Smith, shivered as though pierced by a sharp 

My Gwen: my doings have cost me a good deal: 
I know why. The fact is that like all three of my 
daughters, I have a very vehement, violent, over- 
impressionable nature, which, on such occasions, gets 
ridiculously over-roused, jarred, confused. Hence I have 
then a big job (quite apart from all visible doings) to 
drop, drop, drop all this feverishness, and to listen, 
as docilely as I can, to think, will and pray, with 

IO2 Ear on Von Hugel's 

only "la fine pointe de 1'esprit," as St. Francois de 
Sales and Fenelon never weary in recommending. 
I tell you this, Child, because I am sure you are much 
like that yourself, and hence may encourage you along 
the same path of a most necessary stillness and peace. 
The minute I at all attain to these dispositions, fruit- 
fulness succeeds to fever. So with Gwen! 

I have been thinking about and praying much to-day 
for an American lady in far-away Chicago who has 
been both comforting and alarming me by her entirely 
unsolicited communications three in number that 
she is the now fifty-three-years-old wife of a university 
professor a man of nobly clean life and spiritual 
mind, but no definite religious belief whatsoever 
and mother to four children, of twenty- three, seventeen, 
fourteen and seven; that till some two years ago she 
herself was an Agnostic; that then, more and more, 
St. Catherine of Genoa, in my Mystical Elements, 
seized hold of her, and the instinct that she might 
still come to believe much, if only she attained to 
much humility and to much love of God's poor; and, 
now, that she had fairly made up her mind to submit 
to Rome to-day, on St. Francis's Day, she a Frances. 
Her very Protestant, touching mother-in-law was in 
this my room with me, a week or so ago, to speak her 
mind and to draw out my own. Both to the daughter- 
in-law in Chicago and to the mother-in-law in London 
I said: that neither in that book nor in my life did 
I, or do I aim at making Roman Catholics: that 
would be odious presumption. That God and His 
grace are (in various degrees, no doubt) everywhere 
but specially, very especially, in Christianity. That 
the presumption is always in favour of souls remaining, 

Letters to a Niece 103 

as to institutional appurtenance, where they are it 
being God's affair to make it clear to them if, doing 
their best where they are, He wants them elsewhere. 
That no aesthetic, etc., attraction, no preference are 
enough: that only the sense of obligation in and for 
the particular soul should decide. The dear old lady 
was very touching, but I saw quickly that even the 
bare possibility that her daughter-in-law could be 
seeking anything but services more gorgeous than 
were those of the Ritualists, etc., did not, doubtless 
could not, enter her head. So then I told her I had a 
darling Niece who had found God and Christ and 
Church oh, so really; and that I loved to help her 
all I could without a thought of her moving. That 
I would gladly help, if I could, in a similar way, 
with her daughter-in-law. Still, that we really cannot, 
can we? become other people's conscience. The dear 
old thing thereupon seemed satisfied with my declaring 
that I well understood how very much she disliked 
Rome; how sad and hurt she was, etc. To the 
daughter-in-law I wrote that my Niece had an Anglican 
clerical adviser of a deeply Catholic mind, and more 
spiritual assuredly than any but the finest (the rare) 
Roman Catholic trainers. And that's true, my Gwen. 

Loving old Uncle, 


My ever darling Child, 26 October, 1920. 

Again late, but again not in fault as to this lateness 
brain gets feverish as soon as ever I add even such 
a scribble as this to any considerable work and my 

IO4 Baron Von Hugef's 

work, or rather my jobs, have been considerable since 
I last wrote. But I loved getting your second letter; 
and you must never, please, await an answer from me, 
if you have something further to say, and find the time 
to say it in. 

I am delighted you are about to get this, your first 
real Retreat; and I do not doubt that you will be 
greatly refreshed and braced by it. No doubt, a 
Retreat depends somewhat upon the Giver of it; yet 
it really depends far more upon the simplicity and 
generosity of the soul that makes the Retreat. I am 
sure you already know well that you must evade all 
straining, all vehemence, all, as it were, putting your 
nerves into it. On the contrary the attention wanted 
is a leisurely expansive one a dropping gently of all 
distractions, of obsessions, etc. "La fine pointe de 
P esprit, " that is the instrument of progress, the recipient 
of Graces. This old scribbler how much of that 
dropping, evading, gently waiting as against his 
interior vehemences and uproar, a sterile and sterilis- 
ing restlessness he has to practise! Yet the practice 
shows him plainly (in the long run) that that is what 
good sense and God want of him: peace and power 
come that way and only that way. 

I know too that you well understand that you should 
never strain never directly strive to like people. Just 
merely drop or ignore your antipathies. There, again, 
I have been having hurricanes of antipathies well, to 
keep quietly ignoring all that rumpus that is all that 
God asks. And we then grow, through, and on occasion 
of, these involuntary vehemences they keep us humble 
and watchful and close to God. I would suggest, too, 
especially for the Retreat time, not to make too many 

Letters to a Niece 105 

or too complicated resolutions; or rather, on the last 
day, to cut down the number of these reached by, say, 
a half. The remainder will probably be as much as 
you can wisely attend to out of Retreat, till next 

The American lady is to reach London on Saturday 
night 30 October, and she leaves for America on 
13 November. She writes from Paris and says she is 
much looking forward to talks with me. She is evidently 
a very genuine and sincere, but also a very unusual 
woman. She writes that she has no attraction either 
to God or to Christ that in these directions she is 
perplexed; but that the one thing thac draws and 
feeds her is the Church the assembly of believers 
throughout the world. In Paris she spends as much 
time as possible in the churches, amidst the wor- 
shippers that this somehow infects her with faith. 
She has all her life (fifty-three years old now) been an 
Agnostic; but this, somehow, breaks that spell! I tell 
her that very certainly the Church is for Christ and 
God, and not vice versa very certainly. Yet that, 
after all, she loves the Church because it infects her 
with belief. Hence, she wants to believe, and delights 
in belief when it comes, and the belief is evidently 
not simply belief in the Church (is such a thing 
possible?), but belief in what the Church believes 
in Christ, in God. 

She did not take the move on 4 October that she 
thought she was likely to take. But evidently still 
that is in her mind. I shall, however, understand her 
case more definitely when I have seen her. I am 
proposing to her, our first meeting should be on 
All Saints' at early Mass, with a talk after breakfast. 

io6 'Baron Von HtigePs 

My Sweet, of course you will be most welcome here 
on 5 November. We can, I hope, have a good talk 

I am so glad you begin your Retreat on All Saints' 
my favourite Feast the Feast not only of all the 
heroic lovers of God that have ever lived, but the 
Feast of single, heroic, supernatural acts, even if and 
where they remained single. May that darling glow, 
that genial sunshine of the saints, with Christ their 
King in their midst, deepen, widen, sweeten, expand, 
steady this darling little child! And pray for us all, 

Of course a second weekly Holy Communion 
would be excellent; but this must not be forced. 
God will provide reasonably easy means, if that is 
His will. 

Loving old Uncle, 

F. v. Hiigel. 


My darling Child, 23 November, 1920. 

I loved your letter of 15 November very much. And 
now I must really try to answer its points, where these 
invite an answer, and to tell you the chief things that 
I have been learning from various happenings since 
my last. 

i. I feel with you that a very big question is that 
whether or not to keep up your violin. Indeed, next 
to your elementary religious practices and attending 
to the children, I can find none as big. I am only sorry 
that it should have to be a question at all you know 

Letters to a Niece 107 

well how I deliberately put your non-religious readings 
after the fiddling. I could not give you a bigger proof 
of the importance I attach to that violining; for as you 
know, I believe much in the utility, also and especially for 
one's religion, of such an alternation of non-religious 
study. I have often explained this to you; and my life 
witnesses to its truth to me every day. 

A pity that the problem has always to be "two and 
a half hours a day of practice or none." For you could 
doubtless get in an hour or an hour and a half without 
any crush. Yet I quite understand that it really has 
to remain at that alternative. 

Well, I only hope much that you will, somehow, be 
able to retain the fiddling those two and a half hours, 
even if it means no non-religious reading and possibly 
also the abandonment of one or other regular occupa- 
tion besides. I am sure your music is worth it already, 
from its effect upon your happiness. So I trust you will 
be given light, not to abandon it, but how, without 
any dereliction of any real duty, to keep it regularly 
in your life. 

And if Richard really takes to music for life and for 
his livelihood: there is another, big reason for keeping 
up your music fully. 

2. I am very glad you are again visiting the poor 
people I am sure you have real gifts that way. I have 
always much regretted that my deafness has so crippled 
me in that direction. I feel as if it would have done 
me much good, even though I am not sure whether 
I would have had gifts that way. 

3. As to the Fenelon, I am ever so glad that you love 
him so. But indeed I felt sure you would. But I kept 
him. back till now because I always fear as to him just 

io8 Baron Von HugeFs 

only one thing: that the reader may have too little 
experience of spiritual things to perceive, under all 
that apparent ease and suave simplicity, the masses of 
spiritual experience and of religious wisdom. But you 
by now have sufficient experience to bring to him, to 
perceive what lots and lots he brings to you. 

Among the letters I feel that perhaps those which 
will suit you most and will teach you most are the 
letters to Soeur Charlotte de S. Gyprien. Oh, what a 
lot I owe to them; they are often, often gently ringing 
through my soul. The biographical "Notice" will have 
made you realise her as an ex-Huguenot a woman 
of great mind and the toughest will, but naturally 
haughty, contemptuous of the average, requiring (as 
my Gwen-child does) to learn to lose herself in and for 
the average. If God, if Christ, loves men and who can 
doubt it? He loves the average very much the poor 
little virtue, the poor little insight. How splendidly 
Fenelon feels in her a certain unchristian aristocratical- 
ness of mind she was evidently a sort of Dean Inge 
in petticoats. Mind, Sweet, you bathe in, you saturate 
yourself with, those letters ! 

Then there are those letters to the two dukes (Che- 
vreuse and Beauvilliers) : what grand direction as to 
how to lead a very full and yet a leisurely life! Do you 
notice there, St. Catherine's "one thing at a time"? 
And here there is also the insistence upon doing this 
one thing always with a certain environment of peace, 
of non-hurry around it. I find this double practice 
of golden worth; and, in getting up of a morning, 
I gently plan the day's doings, not too many of them 
for the application to them of Fenelon's treatment. 
(One has, of course, to be ready to modify one's 

Letters to a Niece 109 

scheme, as sudden, unexpected duties crop up in the 
day. But, even so, that gentle scheme is useful.) 

Do you notice one very wonderful thing in Fenelon? 
It is the combination of a rarely light (not frivolous) 
a light and elastic open temperament with an earnest 
will and gently concentrated determination. People as 
determined and as ardent as he, usually are, or become, 
heavy, rigoristic. And again, people as light and 
elastic as he, usually are, or become, frivolous and 
corrupt. By that combination the earnestness without 
rigorism he always strikes me as belonging, in his 
measure, to that minority of Christian teachers who 
have reached closest to that same combination in 
Our Lord Himself to have caught up a few drops of 
that genial rain, that royally generous west wind, that 
gently drops and brightly blows through the virile 
sunshine of His love. St. Francis is another, - and, of 
course, a much greater instance of that delightful 
paradox. The future of religion, indeed even already 
its present propagation in our poor old world, lie in it. 

4. You are doubtless unable to keep on with the 
Herodotus, that may be able to come some time later. 
Oh, I love him much: he is so childlike, so quaint, so 
wholesome, a little like a Greek prose Chaucer, I think. 
And then his general tone is so truly religious; what a 
dread he has of all arrogance, and of its blinding effects 
and inevitable terrible falls! 

5. As to Mrs. , she went off to America on 

Saturday, 13 November. We had four long talks, 
besides meeting twice in church. I think she will 
really persevere and will greatly grow, for she is 
deeply humble and very anxious to become still more 
so, and possesses a remarkable self-knowledge knows 

no Baron Von HilgeTs 

how to distinguish what in herself is a surface mood 
and what is underlying, often very different genuine 
substance. So on the evening of her first Holy Com- 
munion day, she said, with a mischievous smile: 
"I trust and believe I shall never lose this my new, 
fuller light: you see, I do not think I have ever felt so 
Protestant as I have done to-day!" But I wish (it is 
only a peripheral matter) that she did not put her 
political radicalism so high in her scheme of things. 


From Letter of 8 December, 1920. 

My darling Gwen-Child, 

I have to thank you for three very dear good letters 
as always very welcome and very carefully read. I 
think the following points are those I see clear about, 
or as to which I have facts worth reporting about. 

i. As to Fenelon. I am delighted you love him so. 
He is one of the, say, half-dozen of the non-Scriptural 
writers who has helped me most directly and most 
copiously in my own interior life a life requiring 
immensely that daily, hourly, death to self. I believe 
that less keen and violent natures can get harm from 
him; phlegmatic, drifting, inert temperaments could 
take him wrong way on. But I doubt whether he 
himself, the living man, ever harmed any soul he tried 
to help, and he was too amazingly penetrative of the 
particular soul before him thus to harm. The only 
possible exception is, / think, his cousin, Madame Guyon : 
possibly by his disciple attitude towards her, he did, 

Letters to a Niece 1 1 1 

as a matter of fact, help her to become still more the 
Quietist than she would have been without him. 
Certainly it was for the purpose of covering her 
exceedingly vague and wool-gathering expressions that 
in his Explications des Maximes des Saints he strained 
his own language, and got censured by Rome for 
such terms. But then I have never taken him in that 
livre manque, but in these letters; and again in these 
letters, as a man of immense action and persevering, 
energising of will, addressing souls too vehement and 
too intense, taken like this I have found him tremen- 
dously helpful. Do not hurry to return these four 
volumes. . . . 

I am sending you three other volumes of the Corre- 
spondence the letters to his family and the mixed 
letters. This because I have found that his helpfulness 
was greatly increased by my realising him as a tho- 
roughly flesh and blood, naturally faultful individual, 
and as a man to whom God was not sparing of much, 
much trial and purification. . . . They do, you will 
find, humanise, concretise one's image of him greatly, 
and here and there appears a letter, perhaps as many 
as a dozen all told, which really are spiritual letters. 
Also pray specially notice and read and re-read 
M. Tronson's letters: that good soul, the trainer of 
Fenelon at S. Sulpice. Pray note Tronson's austerity 
and immense ideal for Fenelon, and his piercing analysis 
of his natural faults. A fine example of what I so 
want my Child to grasp vividly, and for good and all, 
that usually one thoroughly trained spiritual soul has 
in the background another trained spiritual soul as 
its trainer. 

2. As to Du Bose. I want you, Dearie, first of all to 

ii2 Baron Von Hugel's 

realise that Du Bose is not up to this his swan's 
song -one of my men at all. His books are treated as 
gospels by many young High Anglican clerics. But 
they deeply dissatisfy me. Three ideas are with him 
throughout; and I am very confident that all three 
are gravely mistaken and highly impoverishing. 

(i.) God and man are in the whole work of sancti- 
fication, salvation, etc., on a strict parity. God's action 
never extends farther than man's action. They are not 
only both wanted in some degree: right! But they are 
both, in actual fact, always and necessarily equal in 
depth and in breadth. What stuff, what blasphemy! 

(ii.) The possibility of Sin is a necessary part of 
Liberty as such. In sheer thought, in the very nature 
of things, to be free to do and be good, is to be free 
and do the reverse evil. No and again no. To be 
able to do, to be evil, is a defect, a restriction on 
liberty. Perfect liberty always spontaneously, joyously 
wills its own perfect nature. We should feel humbled, 
not only by our actual sins, but already by the fact 
that we can commit such things. (This alone cuts the 
ground from under all the Byronisms as childish 

(iii.) There is an element of potential evil in God 
Himself. (This follows, of course, inevitably from 
No. ii.) No and again No. You know how I try to 
account for the existence of evil in the world, but 
even if I were wrong in my particular solution for 
the existence of evil Du Bose's should be fought to 
the death. 

Du Bose has still further notions hardly more sound 
than these. But these are surely enough. You will see 

Letters to a Niece 113 

then that, not as a further specimen of a teaching I 
believe in, but, on the contrary, as a first pathetically 
late instance of a sound spiritual yearning in contrast 
with painfully reckless or at least inadequate theoris- 
ings, I have loved the strain (the strain more than the 
actual words) of this paper, in so far as it hungers for 
the Church. 

By the way, the sad unsatisfactoriness of Du Bose's 
own all but life-long subjectivist Protestantism, helps 
me to see how little ideal is that abounding in its own 
sense of each of the sound currents of Protestantism 
which Du Bose even in this paper tries to make out 
to be somehow really satisfactory. In reality each soul 
requires centrality, inclusiveness, balance, sobriety, 
immense reverence. Its errors may get counterbalanced 
in the course of history and for mankind at large by 
the contrary errors, or its incompleteness may be made 
up for by the contrary incompletenesses of other souls. 
Well but what about this soul itself? As to the par- 
ticular sentence you quote as to the Church as the only 
Christ in which we are and we can do anything by 
Him and for Him I think you have spotted a seriously 
excessive phrase. The Church is not Christ is no 
more Christ than it is God. We require God and 
Christ and Church: each in and with the other. But 
it ruins the whole richness, indeed the truth, of the 
outlook, if any one of these especially if the Church 
is simply identified with either of the other two. But 
there you have just a small touch of Du Bose's weak- 
ness, which in his books runs riot he overstates till 
he meets, implies, the very opposite of what he started 
out to defend. 

As to your own Church appurtenance. I want to say very 

ii4 Baron Von Huge! V 

simply and definitely what I have long felt with you, 
Child, but what I have, perhaps, rather implied than 
at any time expressed en toute lettre that I find God 
in His goodness has given you a very a sensitively 
Catholic mind; that I never think of you, feel you as 
a Protestant at all, but as an elementary, inchoate, 
deep Catholic soul. I think you really seize upon 
and feed upon those doctrines and practices in Angli- 
canism which, thank God, are Catholic, and there's 
an end on't and that you instinctively shrink from 
what may be un-Catholic or even anti-Catholic there, 
especially in the vigorous kite-flying which some junior 
Anglicans somehow love to practise. The latter part 
of the sentence means that I believe traditional High 
Anglicanism the stock that Edward Talbot springs 
from, contains really but little that is not Catholic. It 
is not complete, but it is, in its positive teaching, upon 
the whole, most consolingly Catholic. 

Now I must admit that when I began trying to help 
you spiritually, I felt it might be my duty, or at least 
the wiser course, to give you, and encourage you in, 
not Roman Catholic books, but Anglican ones. This 
might help to keep you from thinking of Rome. But 
then I saw, on careful examination, that I had no even 
indirect intention to woo you for Rome, through your 
spiritual reading. I simply wanted to give you the 
best, the strongest, food for your soul. Was I really 
to eschew what I believe to be best, simply because it 
might indirectly awaken comparisons, misgivings, etc. ? 
As a point of detail I had thought of starting you on 
Newman's Parochial and Plain Sermons certainly classics 
and well known to me. But then these sermons are 
rigorist how they have depressed me! Just the 

Letters to a Niece 115 

opposite from Fenelon, who always braces me. And 
really, I cannot allow you to be depressed at least 
I cannot organise depression for you! But William 
Law, and recently Dean Church, have written spiritual 
things that are not depressing, and that, some time, 
you might read with profit. However, High Anglicans 
themselves live largely upon the books I have recom- 
mended to you. Indeed, I know some such who would 
be indignant with me for not considering these books 
as somehow really Anglican. After all, you can and 
will just feed on what truly helps you there to love 
God and Christ, and to hate, and constantly to guard 
against self. All this will fit in beautifully with your 
praying in the little church your Holy Communion 
there and in the cathedral. I think your thoughts at 
times about Rome as possibly for yourself probably 
are a good deal a wish to be at one with your old 
uncle. But I have already explained how truly I feel 
ourselves at one. And short of a very clear light that 
you must join, that it would be sin not to, you might 
easily cross over and find yourself less at one with me 
than now. Now you are getting the finest Church 
teachings and figures in these books and the weak- 
nesses, the humannesses of Anglicans furnish a foil. 
Then you would be environed by the poor average, 
with its weaknesses and humannesses very real there 
also. Hence I would have you, my Sweet, do 
your very best where you are, with what you there 
can get; taking care only not to fix yourself up nega- 
tively I mean against Roman Catholicism. Consider 
it simply as what, even if the fuller truth, does not 
concern you now perhaps never will. After all it is 
a truth which, in large part, you are living already, 

1 1 6 Baron Von Hugel 7 s 

and which you can and will live more and more, 
without any shutting up of yourself. 

Loving old Uncle-Father, 

F. v. H. 

I was so sorry about the headache, but glad about 
the peace. Death and Peace Good! 


But indeed, above all, it will be your love of them 
in and for Christ your love of and union with Him, 
which will keep or gain them for God. After all, every 
soul, boy or girl, as they grow up, have to pass through 
that delicate difficult crisis, when they themselves 
have deliberately to will the right and God. Even 
when the training and example have been perfect, and 
when the natural character is specially good. And, of 
course, it is your call to work for, and be ready, and be 
by, those three and their father also. From prayer and 
solitude back to them, and from them again back to 
it: and with them much in your prayer and your prayer 
much in them there is a fine rich tension for you. 
Bless you, Child, for 1921. 

Loving old, 

Fatherly One. 


29 January-2 February, 1921. 
My darling Gwen-Child, 

I think of you as back at Odstock, and, in any case, 
ready for a letter. I have had to be a bit long before 

Letters to a Niece 117 

getting to this one, but have not a bit forgotten you, 
Dear. There are three things or four that I specially 
want to write about this time. 

1 . Your music. I still await light on this point. For, 
on the one hand, it does look as if the necessary amount 
of violin practice were straining to the head; yet, on 
the other hand, this music-producing is such a unique 
vehicle of self-expression for you. I should be so loth 
to see you give it up. The crux of the difficulty lies 
evidently in the amount the large amount of practice 
necessary for your otherwise stiff fingers. If, say, an 
hour or an hour and a half a day were sufficient that 
would not seriously strain the head. But then you 
seem to be sure that that would not be enough! I do 
not feel that the possible impossibility of keeping up 
that full orchestra for performances in the cathedral 
need decide the matter. For though it is, of course, 
specially inspiring to play thus in God's house indeed 
in one of the old cathedrals yet it would not, surely, 
be impossible this failing for your organist friend 
to get up chamber-concerts, quartets, in which you 
would be first (sole first) violin concerts which, of 
course, could be for some solid charity, and which could 
be spiritually intentioned by my Gwen-child. 

2. A couple of attempts to help souls seem to have 
gone awry with me just now: I mention the cases 
because you too will, sooner or later, doubtless yourself 
have more or less similar experiences. One was of an 
Italian man friend of about forty-five an immense 
reader and somewhat intemperately speculative mind 
a man who came back to Christianity, indeed to 
the Roman Catholic Church, from wildly secularist 
Socialism some eight years ago. I had built great 

1 1 8 Baron Von Huge I 's 

hopes of rare help for him from a Jesuit Retreat which 
I suggested his making for now about a year. At last 
he went and made one, the other day. But the priest 
who gave him the Retreat, an American, though a 
very good man, rather turned it into a series of theo- 
logical speculations or discussions than that he kept 
it, and made it, into directly practical instructions in 
prayer, meditation, training of the conscience, dis- 
covery and reformation of personal faults, etc. which 
is, of course, the direct object and function of a Retreat. 
I do not think those four full days have damaged my 
man, but they fed just his speculative bent, which 
I hoped would be starved, and have starved his 
devotional needs and chances, which I hoped would 
be fed. Ah, well God may be offering him chances 
I do not see or know of. He is a well-intentioned man, 
and God will bless even unlikely-looking happenings. 
Then there is a young English lady artist, who 
adored her mother, who had no religion, or who had 
lost what she had had. This damsel came to stay for 
three nights a few days ago, and to our surprised 
pleasure seemed definitely religious in her outlook 
(a thing which had appeared to us to be sadly lacking 
in her). And she wrote me so enthusiastic a letter 
about my Christianity and the Supernatural especially as 
to my tact with young people that I thought I could 
and ought to say something about religion to her, so 
I wrote her a careful answer dwelling on the import- 
ance of cultivating this her religious sense, just as she 
cultivated her artistic sense; on the great Jewish- 
Christian-Mohammedan tradition of prayer for the 
dead, which she might get into the habit of for her 
mother; and on the great importance of, whenever 

Letters to a Niece 119 

reasonably possible, only preliminary judgments. This 
last point because I had tried to introduce her to 
Browning's poetry entirely unknown to her till I 
read aloud to her some six of his noblest easier pieces; 
and had found that she judged straight away and 
finally and with an angry hostility. As I pointed out, 
she could not, at that stage, know more than that, so 
far, she did not like him after all, a very small fact, 
and one that might well be overcome on further 
acquaintance with writings which seniors of hers, well 
qualified to judge, had come to reckon of the rarest 
depth and richest delight. But this letter was answered 
by a curt, dry little note, telling me she had done all 
the things I proposed, now during several years. I was 
glad in a way, for surely even without any self-know- 
ledge she must know whether or not she has gone to 
Holy Communion, often, indeed if possible every 
Sunday, and whether she has done at least fifteen 
minutes' spiritual reading every day. But then it was 
strange to note that she said "all the things," whilst 
it is clear that the suspense-of-any-avoidable-final- 
judgment practice had certainly not been done for 
several years. Ah, well; it does not follow that that 
letter was no use at all; and, in any case, one did 
one's little best. 

3. Three dear friends have died since I last wrote 
two of them quite old: fine old Dr. Alexander Whyte, 
the Presbyterian Edinburgh preacher and writer, a 
man with much of the Catholic mind in surroundings 
which made its utterance difficult; and fine old Lady 
Stawell (pronounced Stowell), the widow of an 
Australian official, a sweet, strong serene Anglican, a 
devoted Christian. She had many a trouble; but her 

I2O Baron Von Hugel's 

heroic resignation to God's holy Will, her generous 
and strongly gentle application of her faith to her 
entire life and dispositions never left her to the last; 
and when I saw her lying dead on Sunday the coun- 
tenance was indeed beautiful in its triumphant 
spirituality. These two friends were respectively in 
their middle eighties and late nineties. But the third 
friend was only fifty; and he was carried off instan- 
taneously by angina pectoris. He was a very devoted, 
very popular, immensely active Jesuit priest the man 
who gave me hospitality in the Jesuit house of studies 
these last four years at Oxford. He was essentially a 
man of action, full of social service work. Well, that is 
necessary too necessary that some, with the gift for 
it, should labour much at it. His devoted bulldog 
Jimmy is sure to feel his master's death deeply: they 
were inseparables, day and night. 


5 February, 1921. 

I think five to seven on the fourteenth will be best 
for me have me freshest for you. And Aunt Mary will 
love to have you to tea at four-thirty. I would have 
mine alone at that time, and we could thus start at 
five, having satisfied our lower wants. 

But this is specially to wish you a very deep and 
devoted, a very peaceful and epanoui birthday. What 
shall I wish you specially for the coming year for 
all the years of your life? I will wish you the ever- 
increasing practice of just the kind of moderation, 
alternation, mixedness, which you are already seeing 

Letters to a Niece 121 

and practising. It is the moderation of yourself in 
all things especially also in your religion and in 
your very prayer; your always occupying a very 
appreciable part of your clock-time and direct atten- 
tion with not-directly, religious things; and this pre- 
cisely because of, and for, God; to ensure stability, 
sobriety, genuine detachment also, especially, in the 
deepest things and joys. This practise and organise, 
this make instinctive: and you will persevere to the 
end, you will grow more and more spiritual and 
holy; you will gain solid joy: you will become utterly 
true and elastic and accessible. Even at seventy, in 
such a life, "vainly the flesh fades, soul makes all 
things new." 
Holy Communion, for you, to-morrow. 

Fatherly One, 

8 February, 1921. 

I had intended, Child, not to write again before we 
meet on the fourteenth. But I had forgotten that 
already to-morrow is Ash Wednesday Lent beginning! 
So I write this little card to say that we will both of 
us, will we not? make our Lenten penitence consist 
primarily in the ever gently renewed dropping of 
our several over-intensenesses, and in as gently and 
really adaptably as we can, accepting, fitting into, 
the rubs and jolts, the disappointments and dreari- 
nesses which God in His merciful training of us may 
allow or send us. And we will both add to this central 
chief thing just one or two little renunciations. Am 
dropping my after-dinner fruit and all book-buying 
till Easter. You may be able to start some little thing 

122 Ear on Von Huget's 

like that to-morrow. And for the rest, the darling poor, 
the open air, the Greek books, the dear dog, and any 
duty that may come to hand; all penetrated by your 
Holy Communions and an expansive, humble joy. 

Fatherly One. 


Ever darling Child Mine, 22 February, 1921. 

I got your last letter yesterday morning, and though 
it was (as far as you yourself, your dispositions and 
affections go) as dear as ever you are, it nevertheless 
through no fault of yours, but through much stupidity 
of my own gave me grave distress and uneasiness. 
You see, as I have told you many a time, the biggest 
cross of my little old life which God has deigned to 
train by not a few trials, was when (all unintentionally, 
indeed for long quite unwittingly, but none the less 
really) I myself, so to speak, put out my True*s spiritual 
eyes. I myself, who had chiefly trained her in faith 
and trust and love of God and Christ and Church, so 
strained and perplexed that very sensitive young soul 
that her very love of me and her natural openness to 
all impressions from me, bereft her for years of all 
faith or at least of all peace, of all conscious faith. 
As I also told you, I had the immense consolation of 
seeing her come back fully, even before she married, 
of seeing with my own eyes in Rome, her darling, 
utterly, deeply spontaneously Christian and Catholic 
faith, love, life and death. She knew well, of course, 
how little comfort I should gain by any even of this, 
if there was in it anything to suggest that it was done 

Letters to a Niece 123 

in an attempt to please me: if what is essentially a free, 
self-responsible act and donation was performed even 
from such a touching but quite inadequate motive. 
Yet she knew, of course, what a unique joy it would 
give me if I could see here on earth my miserable 
blind work undone. And so, when she became just 
ill enough to receive Extreme Unction, she turned to 
me so darlingly, "Oh, Papa, what a grace, what a 
joy, to receive a further Sacrament of the Church." 
I knew exactly why she thus turned, first to me. And 
then she pressed for, she got permission, to receive 
this Sacrament again, and was, the sweet, a little hurt 
that I did not seem to her as utterly assured of her 
love in so receiving it, as she wanted me to be, and as 
she knew I well could be. And so, of course, also with 
her confession, and above all with Holy Communion: 
but with these the evidence of her full return to the 
Catholic faith and practice had been before me for 
some eight or nine years. Now, Sweet: since my True 
died, I do not think I have cared to try and serve and 
feed any soul as much as yours. My chief prayer has 
been that I might never strain, never complicate, 
never perplex you, and that in a Fenelon-like self- 
oblivion I might just simply help and feed and carry 
you, if and when and where you required it to let 
God lead. Well, Sweet, up to this last interview I 
think (with doubtless many little imperfections) God 
mercifully helped me to do what I believe He wanted 
me to do. But I suppose I was getting to count on my 
poor little insight or other highly-limited capacities, 
and it was time I should have a wholesome humilia- 
tion. I feel sure that this is good for me. But may I not 
have done any permanent harm to you, Child mine! 

124 Baron Von Hugefs 

I mean: may I not have conveyed impressions so 
vivid that (however erroneously, they have so shaped 
and affected your mind) I cannot now seriously 
modify them? I will try, as surely is my clear duty, 
presently. But I want first to get three smaller points 
out of the way. 

1. As to health and music. I am so sorry about the 
neuritis in the right arm, and the (of course inevitable) 
suspension of all violining. You will indeed be wise 
if you suspend or sufficiently moderate or modify 
whatever else may now tire or strain you. In this 
way you will soon get well again. And meanwhile you 
need not, need you? make any definite decisions as 
to the music. For I take it, that once in your average 
health again, you could manage an hour to an hour 
and a half a day without any marked physical dis- 

2. As to your mother's questions. It must be some 
twenty-five years ago that your mother once began to 
write me about some marriage matter and asking 
some question, I forget what. I answered her as plainly 
as she had asked. And it tried me a good bit after, later 
on, when I found that she had told several of her friends 
about my answer as very odd as a sort of queer 
joke yet, what a sweet woman she is with such 
dear darling qualities! So, though I have, since then, 
been always reluctant to answer questions of hers, 
I wish her nothing but good, and would like to help 
her when and where I solidly can do so. 

(i.) As to the Virgin Birth. I always find most help 
myself by dwelling upon the very early, the contem- 
porary conviction of our Lord's sinlessness something 

Letters to a Niece 125 

quite different and distinct from all and every other 
human holiness: and upon the consequent early feel- 
ing and belief that One thus sinless must have been, 
so to speak, the Beginning of a fresh creation of God, 
and cannot have been linked just simply as all other 
human children with at most only holy, in general 
sinful, never sinless, ordinary human beings. This is 
doubtless the deepest reason also for all the honour 
paid to His Mother. 

(ii.) As to the Eucharistic Bread and Wine turned into 

the Body amd Blood of Christ. I take it that what repels 

her here is this apparent treating Christ as though He 

were divisible, and a divisible thing, and as though we 

literally ate and drank parts of Him. But any such 

notion is excluded by the very general doctrine of 

"concomitance" (=going together), by which, Christ, 

being not dead but alive, not a thing or things, but 

a Person: where His (risen and glorified) Body and 

Blood are, there also are His soul and His Divinity, 

each penetrating, and interpenetrated by, the other. 

The reasons why, especially in St. John's Gospel, 

chapter vi., the Body and the Blood, and the eating 

and drinking, are so strongly emphasised is to ensure 

the very important faith in the strict and entire reality 

of Our Lord's Presence a reality greater or different 

from His ordinary Presence in our hearts a reality 

closely connected with the physical eating and the 

physical drinking of those species the Eucharistic 

elements. Of course it is possible to have too carnal a 

conception of the meaning of this doctrine. Yet I do 

not doubt that upon the whole the danger lies far 

more in an evaporation of the Presence into no more 

than the universal Presence of Christ, or even into 

126 Baron Von Huge/'s 

a mere vague subjective thought of Him as though 

(iii.) As to the difficulty of caring for, and of fer- 
vently attending, Matins or Evensong, I quite under- 
stand it, I think. But I would dearly love to see you 
battle quietly against it, whilst using every reasonable 
means to enliven your attention and interest. If the 
services are somewhat long, yet their contents, especially 
the Psalms are admirable. Why not get to understand 
the Psalter very well? I mean not simply more or less 
by heart, but, on the contrary, by learning to see more 
clearly and more constantly the original meaning, the 
first state of soul, in them. You will get in a few days 
from me the late Canon Driver's beautifully precise 
re-translation from the Hebrew of all the Psalms 
each printed on the page opposite to that on which 
the Revised Psalter stands printed. I should love you 
very slowly and ruminatingly to go through the 
whole perhaps slightly marking with pencil under 
the words of the Psalms, in your Prayer Book, where 
Driver has taught you the precise original meaning 
where the Prayer Book text is obscure. This would 
bring rich life and deep feeling into them, or rather 
would reveal to you the life and the feeling. Our own 
Mass and Benediction, and especially Vespers and 
Compline, are, of course, filled with various Psalms. 
So also for understanding our, the great old Latin 
services, a sound knowledge of the Psalter is very 
useful. Then I look forward to the days, off and on, 
when with others, you would have a companion at 
these services. This would break and limit the 
isolation a good bit. ... 

These difficulties are all so many additional special 

Letters to a Niece 127 

reasons for your holding out, even if you mostly have 
to go alone. But, Sweet, you would, of course, practise 
moderation in the matter; going, as you do, to Holy 
Communion at least once a week, and praying by 
yourself, as you do, in your little church by yourself. 
I do not see that you need have more than Evensong 
on the Sundays: that is supposing you get Holy 
Communion every Sunday morning. 

And now at last I come to the biggest thing in your 
letter: what you say about liberty, freedom, in the 
Roman Catholic Church. I sadly realise that, given 
my remarks, or rather given the sheer fact of my 
raising the point to you at all the other day, you 
could not at least if you followed me then in your 
usual sweetly receptive way think at all differently. 
For if your own freedom would not, by becoming a 
Roman Catholic, get curtailed, where would be the 
object of my raising the point to you at all? It must 
have concerned yourself; and if it did not concern 
you, where lies the excess in your conclusion, from, 
indeed in, your simple reproduction of my words? 
I see this quite plainly, Child. But I soon felt very 
uncomfortable, you gone, as to what I had said. 
I know I spoke with edge and concentration, and 
I have waited anxiously to see its reception by you. 
Be a dear child now, and drop what I said then, 
attending simply to what I will write now. 

First then, there can be no serious question of any 
curtailment of any right and reasonable freedom 
such freedom as you practise now in your reading, 
studying, thinking if ever you became a Roman 
Catholic. I have deliberately gone through all the 
duties, all even the chances and influences that would 

128 Baron Fon 

then surround you, and I can discover no such cur- 
tailment, either certain, or even probable. Of course, 
you would yourself have a wide choice of confessors, 
devotions, spiritual books, religious habits; and if you 
yourself chose, or you let yourself go to vehement 
reaction against all your past, even where (as, thank 
God, it is) very good and wise: you could work your 
appurtenance to the Churdi in an impoverishing 
way. But that would be your own doing; and already 
you see far too plainly how central must always be 
and remain the dropping of all excess and vehe- 
mence, for such a danger to be at all near or likely. 
If you were a man, and a critical historian and 
philosophical thinker, and these activities occupied 
with religion, not simply reproductive or selective, 
but original and reconstructive, the question of free- 
dom would occur. But note, my Sweet, that not only 
it does not it really does not occur for yourself: it gets 
answered by me, with whom it does, it cannot but 
occur, in the sense opposite to that in which you 
answer it for yourself. I deliberately admit some 
difficulty, some complication for such as myself; but 
I do not cease, thank God, to see and experience that 
the gain of my Roman Catholic appurtenance is, even 
simply for the solidity of my freedom, for the balance 
and reality of my outlook -just simply even to my life 
of scholarship and thinking IMMENSE. I know it is. So that 
I am sure that you are doubly removed from any 
real curtailment of your liberty, if ever you came to 
the Roman Catholic Church: for you are not a scholar, 
a thinker, by profession and, even if you were, you 
could, and ought, and would gain a depth and breadth 
of rich liberty beyond what you could acquire else- 

Letters to a Niece 129 

where. You can see that, as to men like myself, this 
is my real conviction. How else could you explain my 
always keeping open in my mind the possibility and 
desirableness of Professor Norman Kemp Smith, of 
Edinburgh, coming to us later on? 

Do not, Sweet, misunderstand any of this as a plea, 
as even the most indirect pressure for your changing. 
No: it has nothing to do with that. Only deep, strong, 
most clear calls of conscience would make it right for 
you to think of such a change. I only want, if God 
will bless this old bungler, to remove a false impres- 
sion I do not want, if ever such a condition of 
conscience arose, for you to be stopped from following 
it up by a bugbear, alas, of my own suscitation. You 
will, Blessing, if you truly can say so, give me an 
immense relief by telling me that you now understand. 
I will, of course, gladly explain further, if there is 
anything seriously obscure. I see that there was a 
double self-seeking about me that evening. I was 
thinking of my own case, instead of yours and I was 
thinking of my own case unmanfully, softly, com- 
plainingly. As a matter of fact I have found, and 
I have at this moment, masses of deepest sympathy, 
even of a purely personal kind, and this not simply 
from dry scholars, but from darling Catholic saints 
of God. If I got more, it would turn my old head. 

And now, my Child, one good hug, and another 
good hug, and a third good hug. And Christ bless 
you, guard you, expand, pacify, and give you genial 
joy, here, now, and for ever. 

Loving old Fatherly One, 



130 Baron Von Hilge/'s 


28 February, 1921. 

Delighted by your letter and will now try and drop 
all that distress on that point from my mind. Of course 
you may copy parts or all of that L.S.S.R. paper of 
mine. You have never mentioned receiving a proof of 
a review of mine of a book by Heiler on Prayer. You 
are meant to keep that. As to St. Francis de Sales, I will 
send you some. Perhaps his chief work at once, the 
Traite de L' Amour de Dieu. I somewhat fear your finding 
him a bit cloying. I hope you will not, for his substance 
is admirable. How many souls he has trained to 
sanctity! But I want you still to read two short 
Fenelons his Education des Filles and his chaplain's 
account of his daily life at Cambrai the man lives 
there before one. Also Shakespeare I too place 
Macbeth highest for spiritual insight though Lear 
I take to be one of the most awful evidences of power 
of all three tragedies. But I like to keep the four 
tragedies compared surely Othello stands almost as 
high spiritually as Macbeth'? 

F. v. H. 


i March, 1921. 

Still tied to bedroom, but was able this morning to 
finish selection of Old Testament passages for my book. 

Once and again was immensely struck and impressed 
with the richness, reality, penetrating spirituality of the 
Psalter, the Psalms at their best, a pity that frequent 
use imperfect translation and the backward elements 
(vindictiveness, earthly rewards nebulousness as to 

Letters to a Niece 131 

the other life) so largely obscure these very magnificent 
things. Will have a lovely Easter book to suggest. 

4 March. Still in bedroom the obstinate chest cold 
and cough upon the whole better, but still far from 
gone. Worst is, that not getting out leaves brain extra 

Thanks for Fenelon returned. Glad you are keeping 
the Lettres Spirituelles a bit. What utterly alive things 
they are! Like all the finest results of immense training, 
cost, perseverance, grace, they stand there as though 
they could not be otherwise as if anyone, everyone 
thought it all! 

Have just accepted to speak at a large Summer 
School at Swanwick on Sunday, 3 July. Will try to 
get them to accept some quite definite point for my 


Child of my old Heart, n April, 1921. 

Here is your book back. If you re-read your copy of 
my (Notes) on Holy Communion you will find it 
much more intelligible, I am sure. You had copied 
carefully, but my poor text was rough! 

Dare not write properly till after 2 May, as I ex- 
plained on post card. But one or two post cards will, 
perhaps, get written, and I can, of course, always 
gladly read letters from you. Everything, everything at 
once, sweetened in the love of God of Christ. 

que rien ne t' epouvante, 
que rien ne te trouble; 
Tout passe; 
Dieu seul. 


132 Baron Von 

What jolly good stuff those saints give one, don't 

Loving old Uncle-Father, 



Ascension Day, 5 May, 1921. 

Here at last I am more free again, and the first 
letter I write because I love to write it, is to my most 
dear little old Thing though really "little," at least 
physically! is not the right word. 

It was only late on Thursday night, 3rd, that the 
big strain came to an end, through the delivery of my 
address on "Suffering in God." The thing was, as it 
were, externally a success: twenty-six of us met 
together a large number for our not large society. 
And they were all, as ever, most kind and dear to 
me personally. But I trust it is sincerely so one feels, 
on such occasions, more cheered by agreement in the 
convictions expressed, than by any amount of such 
pleasant attentions. Some twelve of my listeners spoke 
through my machine after and on the paper; and only 
two agreed with my fundamental to me such a clear, 
dear, and important point: that although, of course, 
God is full of sympathy and care for us; and though 
we cannot succeed vividly to represent His sympathy 
otherwise than as a kind of suffering, we must not 
press this to mean that suffering, what we experience 
in our own little lives as suffering, is as such and 
literally in God. God is overflowing Love, Joy, and 
Delectation. I showed, I think, many and grave 
reasons as warnings against importing, or admitting 

Letters to a Niece 133 

suffering in God. I gave a detailed instance of ruin 
effected in a fine mind, and in all his outlook, in a 
man who began with that one eccentricity real, 
literal suffering in God. 

My Sweet: in a few days I am beginning the third 
and final writing of this thing; and when it is all 
typed and ready to go, for printing, to America to 
be out in September I shall want you to read it 
carefully for me, telling me if it comes home to you 
throughout as live and true, and if it is as clear as 
I can make it. I hope to have it thus ready, say, in 
three weeks from now. 

And of course I shall greatly love seeing you here 
next Wednesday, nth. As an exception, it happens 
that on that day the morning say ten-thirty to 
twelve-thirty would do quite well, so if afternoon 
would have to be shorter as to your visit, come in 
morning. If afternoon will really do as well, then 
I prefer afternoon say four, or four-thirty, or five 
for, I hope, an hour and a half. 


Darling Child, 19 May, 1921. 

I find I can scribble a bit this afternoon, so I will 
write you a letter, Dear. You gave me no coming 
address, so I will just send this to Friendly Green, 
where you may still be. At least, they will forward 
all right, I do not doubt. 

As to the Parallel Psalter book, I had to wait, 
because for months I was 100 and then 150 to the 
bad at the bank; but these last weeks I have been, to 

134 Baron Von 

my pleased surprise, 150 to the good. So I could 
well afford this book for you, and got it at once, with 
such joy! 

I well understand what you feel about religion, 
suffering and caring. But please notice carefully, and 
for a general principle of wise judgment, that religion, 
on its human side, in so far as it is a human activity 
is subject to excesses and defects, to diseases and aber- 
rations more or less special to itself, but which no 
more prove anything against religion at its best 
religion as it is on God's side than do the corre- 
sponding excesses and defects, deflections and diseases 
of Art, of Science, of Politics, of Marriage, prove 
aught against these kinds of life and of reality, taken 
at their best and in their intendedness on God's side. 
I possess a French medical psychologist's very in- 
structive yet dangerously plausible, really anti-religious 
book, Les Maladies du Sentiment Religieux. As a matter 
of fact, for his mind (perhaps unbeknown to himself) 
religion, the whole of religion, is these "maladies." 
We live in times of such obvious transition, decline, 
poverty of deep, creative conviction, of such excess of 
analysis over synthesis that it is in the air all around 
us to ask questions, to poke about, to wonder, to 
drift, to use the microscope; where to become and 
to be, to produce reality, to adore and to will, and to 
see things in the large and upon the whole, and at 
their best, is what we all require. 

As to religion and caring for our dear ones, I enclose 
for you to keep the glorious profession of faith and of 
love of St. Bernard on occasion of the death of his half- 
brother and fellow- Cistercian (= strict Benedictine) 
monk Gerard. The entire sermon is most touching. But 

Letters to a Niece 135 

is not this bit vibratingly beautiful? I have translated 
it as well as I could; but it has lost, alas, a good deal 
in the process! 

I shall not be sending you, Sweet, that "Suffering 
and God" address, at least not typed, after all. I found 
on reflection, and after getting some letters from 
hearers of it, that it was little or no use to publish the 
thing as it stands that it really requires, for such as 
do not already hold its views, an entire new section, 
a section i. which would draw out the right principles 
and proper method for such an inquiry. You see, my 
Sweet, young people always just go ahead on such 
points, as though they were talking, say, of Sargent's 
portraits or of Drinkwater's plays, or at least of things 
which we can hold, overlook, comprehend. But as to 
God, we can, indeed, be sure, very sure, of Him 
He is implied in all our thinking, feeling, willing, 
doing; it is the implicit faith in the reality and the 
useful work of truth, of goodness, of life which will 
never die out for long amongst mankind. And we can, 
we do, gain vivid experience of Him, if only we will 
die, die, day and night, to self. We can thus increas- 
ingly apprehend Him can know really about Him, 
the head, the source of all reality and of all sense of 
reality. But we cannot encircle Him, map Him out, 
exhaustively explain Him. We cannot really say, as 
these objectors cheerfully argued: "If He feels joy, 
He must also feel pain": we cannot, for we thus 
assume that we are dealing with a fellow human 
being; that by "feeling" in God we mean no other, 
no more, than by "feeling" in man. Nor can we argue, 
as another pressed upon me, that he would break his 
heart, if his only son took to an impure life; how 


Baron Von 

much more then must God break His heart, if and 
when any of us gravely sins. We cannot so argue, 
because here again we do not encircle, penetrate God; 
and because we must not press points in ways and de- 
grees which would contradict certain other, and really 
deeper, intimations and requirements of the religious 
sense. Now the deepest intimation and requirement 
we really have got though sadly weakened in many 
of us by the fever and rush of life since about A.D. 1790 
is Being (as distinct from Becoming), is Perfection 
(as distinct from Attempting), is indeed Action, but 
not Change. Of course change in ourselves, in the 
sense of becoming better and better in all things; 
but this this need of change in us, comes simply 
from our imperfection. We are not God. Yet how we 
need Him! And this, then, not as just a larger our- 
selves, not as a larger Becoming, but as Being, as 
Joy Pure and Undefiled. 

Now this, with the St. Bernard which I will now copy 
for you, must do for to-day, my Child. 


30 May, 1921. 

Am now, Child, in midst of proof correction of 
my Essays, as well as (when these leave me a pause) 
at work on the book. So I dare not write a long letter 
only something to go with the accompanying MS. 
of Suffering and God. I am rather ashamed to lend, 
even you, this still not sufficiently clarified thing. 
Show it to no one else. You may, I trust, learn from 
it, even so. I have had further adhesions to its main 

Letters to a Niece 137 

I have been very happy over the thought of your 
visit to Mrs. Rice, a real short holiday. So glad peace 
is reigning within. How wise the Imitation is, in always 
preparing the soul for its desolate times; for if once 
we learn, and continue to learn better and better, 
how to keep on steadily during those times and to 
profit by them, why we have learnt the secret of 
solid advance. 

Mrs. L has written from America. Evidently 

going on steadily and well. She will, I believe though, 
grow richer in soul and outlook. 

I will have to attend D. Farquhar's address before 
our L.S.S.R. meeting on 7 June, about Indian Pan- 
theism as soon as ever his reaches me. A great 
scholar for the Indian side of the question but strangely 
inferior as soon as ever he comes to treat of the 
Christian positions. This, though he is a devoted 
Christian missionary, with at least thirty years of 
Christian religious thinking behind him. Why is this? 
I am sure of the answer. Because as a Protestant 
Nonconformist, he looks at all the Christian side from 
far too individualistic, sectarian, single Bible-texts, 
point of view. You cannot get these great questions 
solved, or even only stated greatly except through 
much history, institutions, Church appurtenances. No 
doubt these things will not, alone, suffice; they can 
even be taken in a way that stifles. Yet they are wanted. 
A child may cut itself with the table-knife, yet such a 
knife is necessary for cutting the bread. 

Trust no headaches, Child. 

Loving old, 


138 Baron Von HUgel's 


Child Mine, a I July, 1921. 

I have now lots to answer, lots to tell. But first about 
the books. I am sending you three books about Socrates 
two are presents, one is a loan; and a fourth book as 
a help an adviser with regard to sensitiveness. 

1. I want you first to read John Burnet's analysis 
of the evidence as to Socrates, and his estimate as to 
the influences which played upon Socrates's mind, 
and the way in which he sorted them out and deve- 
loped them. You will find this in Burnet's edition of 
Plato's Phtedo (which I lend you), pages ix-lvi. I want 
you to study these pages twice through, most carefully. 

2. Then take (in the volume I give you of Xeno- 
phon's Anabasis and Memorabilia] the "Memorabilia of 
Socrates, " pages 349-507. This, too, I want read through 
at least twice (with the notes, as far as you can follow 
these; and looking up all sites in your Classical Atlas). 
Please keep alive everywhere to Socrates's irony; he 
hardly ever opens his mouth without it colouring what 
he says; take him literally and you mostly make him 
say the very opposite he means. Try, too, to trace 
the influence of the Sophists, of Anaxagoras, of the 
Pythagoreans and Orphics, etc. : Burnet ought to have 
helped you towards this. And finally contrast his 
teachings and tone with the Christians' outlook. 

3. Then take the Four Socratic Dialogues of Plato, 
translated by Jowett with Preface by Edward Caird, 
which I give you. First, a double reading of Caird's 
Preface, pages v-xi. Then the Analysis of the "Etithy- 
phro," pages 1-9. Then the "Euthyphro" itself, pages 
1 0-36, twice. The same with the " Apology, " the " Crito " 

Letters to a Niece 139 

(Creito) and the Phedo. Note again in these four Dia- 
logues, Socrates's irony, the sources of his ideas, and 
their limits and peculiarities when compared with 
Xenophon's account of them, and still more when 
compared with the Christian outlook. (Of course 
pre-existence is a myth, and there do not really occur 
any memories from such a pre-existence.) 

When you have done all this, I should like you to 
re-read again Burnet's account, and to see how far 
you yourself have found it true. (You will remember 
that I utilised Burnet's elucidation of all that the 
philosopher Socrates owed to the religious (Pythagorean 
and Orphic), in my criticism of Gorrance, and his 
turning from the Sun, definite religion, to the Moon, 

4. I give you Faber's Spiritual Conferences because, 
although I do not believe him to be a truly classical 
spiritual writer, several of these conferences will at 
least can, I think help you much. I am thinking 
especially of "Kindness," 1-53; "Wounded Feelings," 
260-74; "The Monotony of Piety," 314-32; and "All 
Men have a Special Vocation," 375-96. Surely, Sweet, 
there is much, much knowledge of our poor human 
heart here. I feel that Faber's limitations are, at 
bottom, three, (i.) He hardly ever leaves anything to 
his hearers or readers to develop further by and for 
themselves. He was cleverly called "the spiritual 
Dickens" by a man who pointed out the same pecu- 
liarity in Dickens, (ii.) He has got a touch indeed 
more than a touch of vulgarity he can, at times, 
speak as though he were a Salvation Army Hallelujah 
lass. Arid (iii.) he never quite got beyond the anti- 
Protestantism so common amongst our converts 

140 Baron Von 

devotion to the Blessed Virgin, loyalty towards the 
Pope, and the like, were, because antipathetic to 
Protestants, underlined by, revelled in by, Faber to 
a degree which, at times, put them out of their 
Catholic proportion, their Catholic perspective. He 
would thus, instead of a continuator of the grand 
old pre-Reformation Catholic piety of England, 
become an imitation an affectation of Italian, of 
Neapolitan piety. But you will find only little of 
all this in this volume, I think. Faber sprang from an 
originally French, Huguenot family; hence, in part, 
I do not doubt, his love of point, paradox, hyperbole. 

As to your news and questions, Dear. 

There is, to my delight, once more your funda- 
mental experience of, and call to Recollection the 
Prayer of simple Quiet. This is, of course, a true, deep 
grace of God; it is by being very faithful to it, by 
feeding it, by dropping what weakens or drives it 
away, that you will become happy and holy. How 
beautifully simple! I quite understand the two stages 
of it the stage of distractions and of having to drive 
to strive to drive them away; and then the stage of 
a living, somehow self-acting recollection with God, 
His peace, power and presence, right in the midst of 
this rose of spiritual fragrance. 

I think you could pretty easily weaken, or delay, 
this sense by too much dwelling (even from the best 
of motives) upon the criticisms of yourself, such as 
you mention. I do not believe in getting peace from 
seeking (and even finding) that the criticism was not 
deserved. And indeed even if it was entirely not 
deserved, our minding criticism so very much its 
hurting us so much: this is surely a weakness, a 

Letters to a Niece 141 

faulty condition, at least of our nerves. If and when 
we become genuinely deeply humble, we shall feel 
that we very certainly are full of faults, either those 
particular faults, or other faults it will be too much 
of a most certain fact to our minds, for any possible, 
or even obvious mistake as to the fault the kind of 
fault to surprise or vex us out of our peace. Still, of 
course, even then then especially we would quietly 
and shortly look as to whether we can find the fault 
in us, and if we found it would ask Christ Our Lord 
to help us weed it out or drop it. Yet always would 
I expect to find you to grow more by feeding the 
quiet within you than by direct self-examinings or 
self-fightings. These two latter things also to exist in 
your life but much less, less centrally than the feed- 
ing of the quiet and the loving of God, Christ, and 
others in it. 

As to Confession, I have a certain complication about 
it in my mind, which, I expect, is not very common 
even amongst my own people. You see, with the 
Sacraments, as, indeed, with all other points of religion, 
I so love to trace the great lines of their development, 
and to find out, and to cling to, whatever may be of 
the essence of the Catholic doctrine and practice. 
Applying this to Confession I find (as you can read 
in full in my Mystical Element} that the essential, primi- 
tive, unchangeable part is obligatory Confession in case 
of Grave Sin. The Protestant Reformers abolished the 
Obligation in any and every instance. And now High 
Churchmen have come to recommend fairly frequent 
Confession, in imitation of our (R.C.) late mediaeval, 
and still more, our modern habit. Now I do not doubt 
that fairly frequent Confession can help on souls, yet 

142 Baron Von Huge/'s 

I love to keep quite clear in my own mind an element 
of Obligation which the Protestant Reformers unhappily 
lost abolished; and an element of Conditionally 
Freedom with regard to the late mediaeval and 
modern Frequent Confession, which even my High 
Anglican friends are lacking in. I want, in this point 
also, a wise, firm circumspection. But to take the 
practice of Confession as simply in all circumstances 
not obligatory as always what we call "Confession 
of Devotion," I quite see that also taken this way, 
the soul can get real help and growth in self-know- 
ledge, humility, etc., from it. Since our, late centuries, 
discipline, in the matter is just disciplinary i.e. since 
Rome herself could relax it any way up to, excluding, 
Confessions for Grave Sin, it is certainly not for me 
to press you to very frequent Confessions of Devotion. 
I myself go every fortnight or every three weeks 
but this, simply because of the extant discipline of the 
Church, and because I feel I ought not to exempt 
myself from it. I expect that every six months would 
be quite frequent enough for yourself, to get all the 
good, in your particular life and particular attrait, 
that the practice would be likely to give you. Of 
course, you would have to learn to do so with a special 
kind of freedom and a special kind of strictness accord- 
ing to the special demands of God upon your soul. 
Cela varie, Huvelin would have said, entre dme et dme. 

I have, these last days, been seeing a former fellow- 
student of Gertrude's, for many years an Agnostic, 
then a fervent High Anglican; who, now thirty-eight, 
is inclining to take herself back, to look out for No. i, 
to grumble and to turn sour. Am doing what I can 
for her: pray for her. Have explained how she requires 

Letters to a Niece 143 

a second conversion this time against the dust and 
drear when the physical enthusiasm dwindles. 

The American, Miss Branham, who went to try her 
call, with those strict, field-working Benedictinesses, 
has just written to say she is very happy as a hard- 
worked Postulant; I really think she will succeed: a 
fine instance of the genuineness of such calls. 

I do wish those headaches would go. Will tell 
Thekla what you say for her when I see her. 


My darling Gwen-Child, 27 July, 1921. 

Let me now try first to explain about Confession. 
You see, the very earliest Christian position as to 
grave (=" Mortal") sin was that a man or woman, 
one baptised as an adult (and thereby purified from 
his or her sins), did not again fall into such grave 
sins. Hence the question as to what he or she should 
do, in case they did, in fact, relapse, did not then arise. 

(You can find traces of these conditions and con- 
victions in Saint John's Epistles, and other nooks and 
corners of the New Testament.) But I need not tell 
you that only a little time was, in most regions of the 
nascent Church, necessary for this first intense martyr 
fervour to abate, and for the question concerned to 
become very much alive and fully practical. If you 
look in Tertullian (perhaps the selection you possess 
would suffice, but anyhow in others of his writings he 
is quite plain), you will find "the second plank after 
shipwreck" the "first plank" being baptism. What is 

the second plank"? "The second plank" is Christian 


144 Baron Von Hugel's 

Penance or Penitence. Of what does this consist? It 
consists of three parts, each of which in case of grave 
(= mortal) sin, is necessary for the Divine Forgiveness: 
contrition, confession, and satisfaction. The meaning 
of "contrition" is, of course, quite clear; then, as 
now, it means a definite sorrow for having committed 
those sins, a sorrow from the motive of the love of 
God, and a deliberate, firm resolution of amendment! 
The meaning of "satisfaction," too, remains sub- 
stantially the same the restoration, as far as possible, 
of whatever we may have unjustly taken away 
conjugal fidelity, or health, or fortune, etc. but the 
"confession" then meant, for several centuries, a 
Public confession, in the Christian Church Assembly, 
before, and into the hands of, the Bishop. The bishop 
it was who, during the earlier time, only after a con- 
siderable space filled with works and proofs of peni- 
tence, solemnly, again in the Christian Church 
Assembly, reconciled the sinner with God absolved 
him from his sins, in the name and by the power of 

Now in those early centuries there was no habit of 
confession for venial sins. I suppose that now and then 
such a thing as private confession for venial sins 
happened. But if it did, it must have been rarely, 
since I do not know of any documents attesting such 
confessions. In any case, it is entirely clear that such 
confessions were not considered obligatory were not 
believed to be essential to reconciliation with God. 
The proof of this is that even the strictest Roman 
Catholic theologians to this hour teach that we cannot 
press strict obligation to beyond grave (= mortal) 
sins; that the confession of venial sins (such as has 

Letters to a Niece 145 

become general in the Roman Catholic Church 
since, say, A.D. 1350 or a little earlier) can only be 
pressed on the ground of its being conceited not to 
follow the prevalent discipline of the Church, and on 
the ground of the spiritual utility, etc. In strictness, 
even with us Roman Catholics, a soul which has 
committed no grave sin is not conscious of an 
unconfessed grave sin would not be obliged to more 
than to present itself, once a year, at Eastertide, to 
the priest, to tell him it had no grave sin to confess, 
and to ask his blessing (even this only because of 
certain Decrees of Councils in about 1260 and 1560). 

Now confessions for venial sin we call confessions 
of Devotion confessions for mortal sin we call con- 
fessions of Obligation. My feeling I somehow must go 
to confession (for venial sin) does not make such 
confession into a confession of obligation; nor con- 
trariwise, does my not feeling any obligation to 
confess unconfessed mortal sin make such confession 
into a confession of devotion. What the Church 
thinks, not what you or I feel or think, is here decisive 
and discriminative. 

Now for myself, upon the whole, I regret, I will not 
say all confessions of devotion; I believe, on the 
contrary, that they have helped to train and sanctify 
many a soul. Also, I am glad that Anglicans should 
practise them in moderation and wisely. But what 
I mind much more is the breach at the Reformation, 
by the Protestant reformers, even in England the 
breach, not in the then prevalent practice of confes- 
sions of devotion, but in the immemorial doctrine and 
conviction of confessions of obligation. It was then that 
the conviction was abandoned that a Christian (if he 


146 Ear on Von Hugel's 

have the physical opportunity of finding a priest) 
cannot attain forgiveness for mortal sin, without 
confession, as one of the three essential conditions of 
Christian Penitence. True, the fathers of Anglicanism 
managed, most wisely, to retain the doctrine and 
practice of confession, for all souls which spontaneously 
wanted it, which felt it would help them. And again 
I do not doubt that many a High Churchman has in 
his heart of hearts continued the old pre-Reformation, 
Catholic conviction of the necessity, the obligation, of 
confession in case of grave sins. Yet, alas, this is not the 
official position he is not free to press it confession 
remains, officially, even for grave sin amongst Angli- 
cans less obligatory than, amongst Roman Catholics, 
is confession for venial sin (for here, as explained, there 
is the fear of going against the present discipline of 
the Church, etc.). 

So you can now understand, I hope, my Child, what 
I meant in this whole matter. It seems to me that, for 
yourself, you will do well by using confessions of 
devotion in moderation and with wisdom and peace- 
fulness; and that (if you can do so without strain and 
mental contortion) it will be well if you can add to 
this practice the conviction that, if you had grave 
sin on your conscience, you would then be bound to 
confess. You see, this, as regards your own practice 
of confession, introduces no complication of any kind. 
It only somewhat complicates your Anglican outlook. 
And, Blessing, the cry of my old heart is to be to 
become a not all unworthy follower of Him who 
broke not the bruised reed and quenched not the 
burning flax! so there, enough about that I 

My holiday begins certainly on n August, possibly 

Letters to a Niece 147 

on 8 August (i.e. if they have me at Farnham Castle 
from 8 August to u August when I join Eva and 
Pucky at Thursley). I have written to the bishop 
proposing, as an alternative, to come to them after 
Thursley, i.e. from Friday, 9 September, to Monday, 
12 September. 

Am trying hard to get you a good second-hand copy 
of Jowett's Plato translation complete. It is in that that 
I intend to march you through certain dialogues for 
Plato himself, when you have done the Socrates reading. 

Loving Uncle, 

About Harry's book another time! 


My darling Gwen, 29 July, 1921. 

Thanks much for letter. 

i. About confession, then, we have got all clear. 
I am feeling that it will be a good thing for you to 
go to the amount you propose, also for the reason that 
it still further forms you along the lines of the moderate, 
Church mystical, the mixed type by far the safer and 
richer. That very balanced, wide-seeing American 
psychologist of religion, whom I saw in his room 
some days back, is full of the all-importance of the 
difference between Pure or Sheer or Exaggerated 
Mysticism (which is akin to Pantheism or some kinds 
of Spiritualism) and Mixed or Moderate Mysticism, 
which finds its completion, articulation and safety in 
history and institutions. The latter Mysticism both 
gives to, and gets from, history and institutions much, 
very much. 

148 Baron Von Hu gel's 

2. About the Sadhu: I enclose the memorandum 
I drew up, at the request of Canon Streeter and. 
Mr. Appasamy, towards the construction and orien- 
tation of their book on the Sadhu. I was much struck 
with how far more rich and probing the outlook was 
of the young Indian layman, the son of Indian con- 
verts to Christianity, than the Englishman, a cleric 
a canon of an historic Christian church, and de- 
scended from a long Christian ancestry a man 
middle-aged, too. It was Appasamy who how often 
was and is puzzled by the Sadhu's insistence upon 
direct inspiration that he does nothing except under 
such. "But please, Baron, is this necessary? Cannot, 
and does not God speak to us also through various 
means which spring from Him?" The canon a man 
whom I like, he is so clean and so serious, and so 
pacific and sweet in discussion would never ask 
such a question; indeed I doubt not that his chief 
interest in the Sadhu springs from this Indian, and, 
in some ways, supremely individualist, attitude. I say 
"in some ways," for, after all, his mind and words 
are most fortunately for all saturated with what he 
finds in the New Testament. 

I find the Sadhu to be a fine, firm character a 
devoted will, but to have curiously little mind. I think 
if he had more mind (and remained as finely un- 
fanatical as he now is) he could not think, say, the 
following strangely unperceptive thoughts. For one 
thing, he told me himself, upon my questioning him 
very carefully on the point that, during the thirteen 
years since he has been a Christian, he has never, not 
even for some moments, experienced spiritual dryness, 
spiritual desolation. I asked my close friend, Professor 

Letters to a Niece 149 

N. Kemp Smith, the philosopher, a religious mind, 
what he thought of this, and without hesitation, he 
judged that the Sadhu either did not really know 
himself, or did not know what "spiritual desolation" 
means, or did not understand either. Then, as to the 
continual Direct Inspiration, I was lent one of his 
addresses, typed, in which he specially insisted upon 
this point; yet much the most alive thing in the whole 
address was the exclamation: "He made us for Him- 
self, and restless is our heart until it rests in Him," 
which very certainly comes from St. Augustine's 
Confessions, Book I. chapter i. section i. 

3. As to Suggestion and Auto-Suggestion and 
Religion, or at least Mystical Religion, you can find 
in my Mystical Element certain positions, taken over 
from M. Boutroux, which I still believe to be sound. 
Also please read, and lend if and where this may be 
wise, Father Walker on "The Psychology of the 
Spiritual Exercises," in the Hibbert Journal for last 
April, which I also send (pages 40113 there). 

(I also enclose the Hibbert Journal for this July, 
because of the symposium in it on "Morals and 
Religion." I think you have not yet seen my little 
paper there, pages 60510. Professor Chevalier, pages 
61015, I hke, though it is perhaps too, as it were, 
mathematically clear. But the other three papers are 
very unsatisfying, I think.) 

4. Dearie, I have plenty of money just now, so want 
to tip you a five pounds for any little outing or what 
not. Here it is bless you! I heard from the bishop 
yesterday, I am to come to them from 8 August to 
ii August. 

After all I had better send the two Hibberts in a 

150 Baron Von HugeFs 

separate parcel. You see, Dear, the all-important 
points as to Suggestion, Auto-Suggestion, Mono-Ideism, 
etc. are to remember (i.) that all such things, where 
real and fruitful, are means, methods, connections, 
etc. instrumental; and (ii.) that they can be thus 
real and fruitful because there exist realities above 
all The Reality distinct from them and us. Religion, 
as such, makes straight for these latter things; Psy- 
chology, etc. may, and does, potter over those other, 
lesser things. 


My Gwen-Child, 8 August, 1921. 

Before starting to-day for my holiday, I write down 
this scheme of the study of this Jowett's Plato for you. 
It will go with the volumes your own copy as soon 
as such copy is found by my booksellers. 

I divide up Plato into five groups and periods and 
of these I want you to take the greatest dialogues in 
four of these groups and periods. (One of the groups is 
too hard for any but specialists.) 

I. Socratic Dialogues. Euihyphro Apology. Crito. 
Phcsdo. You have already done these. 

II. Educational Dialogues. 

1. Protagoras. 

2. Gorgias. 

3. Phtsdrus. 

4. Meno. 

5. Symposium. 

Omit the Critical Dialogues. 

Letters to a Niece 151 

Read Comprehensive Dialogues Phado really be- 
longs here. The Republic. Work of old age. The Laws. 

I should like you always to study Jowett's Introduc- 
tion carefully then the Dialogues twice; and then the 
Introduction a last time. 

Please specially watch, in the Phtsdrus, the Meno, the 
Symposium and the Republic, points taken over later by 
the Christian thinkers especially St. Augustine. 

I incline to recommend your beginning with the 
Socratic Dialogues again, and reading them here for 
the purpose, not of Socrates but of Plato and reading 
these so as to keep the Pheedo in its place according to 
the date of composition. 



My darling Gwen-Child, 23 August, 1921. 

At last I am scribbling to you again, with plenty to 
say, but still in a drifting, lazy, tired holiday mood, 
hence shrinking away from much detail or precision. 
Let me number my subjects. 

i. Before leaving home, I wrote you a letter of 
instructions as to the exact selection, order, method, 
etc., with which I should like you to read Plato; and 
this letter I left with my lady bookseller, to put into 
the parcel of Jowett's Plato four volumes as soon 
as they had received a well-preserved and not over- 
dear second-hand copy (the book has been out of 
print a long while now). You will see that I assume 
you to have carefully studied the Socratic Dialogues 

1 52 Baron Von HUgel's 

(including the Phtedo, which really belongs to a later 
period of writing); that I group for you the other 
dialogues which I want you to study into four groups; 
and that I invite you to skip for the present at least 
the six very difficult and technical dialogues of the 
critical group. Even so, you have a large and splendidly 
rich field before you, and we will talk over together, 
and read certain great passages together, carefully, 
I hope and believe. I want you to get to think and 
feel Platonically on quite a number of points. 

2. I left home on Monday, 8th, and stayed at 
Farnham Castle till after tea on the nth. How full 
up, and what a va et vient it was, and, apparently, 
always is there! The widow of an Episcopalian Bishop 
of Glasgow and her daughter; another golden-haired 
young lady, and Walter Frere, an old friend of 
mine, head of the Community of the Resurrection 
at Mirfield, Yorks, there the ladies till Wednesday 
morning, Frere till Thursday morning. Then on 
Wednesday, from eleven till six, some sixteen clerics, 
suffragan bishops, canons, rectors, etc., for a con- 
ference on Faith Healing. Then by tea-time on 
Wednesday the Fords the parents and the seven 
children. And on the Thursday by lunch-time, the 
Episcopalian Bishop of New York and two other 
gentlemen for the night. Miss Winnie Talbot and 
the secretary, Miss Wilcox, were there all the time. . . . 

4. The bishop asked me to say a few words to those 
assembled Faith-Healing clerics, with two of whom 
I got some pleasant talk before and later on. I attempted 
three points. That I could not feel the force of the 
appeal to St. Paul's account of the faith-healers in the 
Church of Corinth, since there we have the uprush of 

Letters to a Niece 153 

a mass offerees and influences, strong with the strength 
of an immense new religion forces and influences in 
no wise directly produced, or even intended, by 
St. Paul, but simply regulated, graduated by him, 
seeing that they existed in chaotic force all around 
him. He had not looked to see what the world then 
required, nor had lent an ear to what it asked for, 
and had then assumed the presence of these powers 
amongst his Christians. No: the powers were there, 
seethingly, obtrusively; because they were there, he 
organised and utilised them. Did my hearers feel 
they possessed such powers? Were these their powers 
so strong as to demand regulation, graduation? If 
not, was it not unreal (surely, a great weakness in 
religion!) to organise, even to discuss, as though the 
demand for such things, or even the desirableness of 
such things, were equal to their supply, to their 
obtrusive presence? That this my point was not 
controversially meant that I should feel the same 
about my own people: I did not see indications of 
their possessing such individual faith-healing powers, 
and did not see how, unless and until they possessed 
them, it was real to discuss their utilisation. My 
second point was that I felt Extreme Unction, prac- 
tised as it was amongst ourselves as a sacrament 
officially and not as an individual gift a rite so 
ancient as to be clearly taught in the New Testament, 
in the Epistle of St. James to stand on quite a different 
plane. That I should love to see them work for the new 
recognition of this. Let them have the insight and the 
courage to part company with Luther's rejection of 
that Epistle, and to work for the acceptation of that 
touchingly beautiful, most helpful rite the anointing 

154 Ear on Von Hugel's 

of the dangerously sick. And my third point was to 
beware, in either case, of action parallel with that of 
the physician, or in supplantation of him. We are 
Christians, not Christian Scientists. The action of the 
physician should move upwards, from the body, his 
chief concern, to the mind and with God in the back- 
ground. The action of the priest should move down- 
wards from God as his central concern, to the human 
soul and the body at last. That is, let them strive to 
become, not faith-healers but saints. How I have 
learnt to see that even the tenderness, the social 
interest and sympathy of Christ, was so entrancing and 
so operative because proceeding from, and throughout 
conjoined with, a lofty sanctity, an awful holiness 
the bending of loftiness, the mercy of purity: the two 
not any one of these things the two together 
with the Holiness, the closest union of God as the 
starting and returning point of the whole Anecdote: 
how the Good Shepherd nuns attain to successes with 
fallen women, greater than any other body, whether 
Roman Catholic or not. 

5. I should love to write on, but must now go to 
Puck who has to be out of this inn. Am here till 
9 September; then home. Poor Hillie has had a 
sudden violent attack of influenza been very weak, 
but is mending now. Was moved to Vicarage Gate. 

Loving Uncle-Father, 


7 October, 1921. 

You bring up, my Gwen-Child, a point which 
I suppose you really feel an objection. Even if you 

Letters to a Niece 155 

do not feel it so, I think it well worth while to clear 
out this corner of your mind, so as to make quite sure 
that you correctly seize the truly great doctrine of 
Purgatory. I want, then, to make sure that you 
clearly understand that, according to that doctrine, 
sufFering (rightly accepted, suffering) is indeed usually 
necessary for, is inherent in, the purification from 
sin, evil habits, etc. But it makes no substantial dis- 
tinction between such purification as taking place 
already here or taking place in the Beyond. In all our 
Retreats we are taught that it will have been our 
own fault, if the sufferings of our life here have not 
sufficed to purify us from our sins and evil habits. 
Of course, even very great sufferings would not, 
simply of themselves, purify us from even small evil 
habits. It is only suffering meekly accepted, willed, trans- 
figured by love of God, of Christ it is only such that will 
purify or cure anything. This is so true that, where the 
love is perfect, this love alone, without any suffering not 
directly prompted by itself, completely blots out the 
evil dispositions. Such a soul, even if previously a 
great sinner, goes straight to Heaven upon its death. 
Yet in all cases, Purgatory applies indifferently to 
sufferings rightly borne in this life and the same simi- 
larly borne in that life. There is simply no such thing 
as a Purgatory here followed, as though it had not 
been, by a Purgatory hereafter. On the contrary, 
every pang God allows to reach us here, and which we 
manage to bear a little well, does a work not to be 
repeated. We become thus fitter and fitter for complete 
union with Christ and God from the very minute of 
our death. 
I have written "a little well" on purpose. For to 

156 Baron Von Huge/'s 

suffer well is far more difficult than to act well (although 
the ordinary talk is that we have just "to grin and bear" 
suffering we can do nothing to it or with it!!!). Holy 
suffering is the very crown of holy action. And God is 
no pedant: He can and does look to the substance of 
our suffering, and knows how to penetrate beyond our 
surface restlessness or murmurs. Indeed part of the 
grand work suffering effects in the soul doubtless 
springs from the way in which, when acute, it almost 
invariably humbles us: we can much less easily cut a 
fine figure in our own eyes over our sufferings, than we 
can over our actions when in peace and plenty. 

You understand all the above completely, I trust? 
We will both do what gently, peaceably we can to 
have all our Purgatory every drop of it here; and 
then, and then, Heaven, the closest union, unfailing, 
with Pure Joy, with All Purity, with Christ, with God. 

Loving old Uncle, 


My darling Gwen-Child, 12-14 November, 1921. 

Here I am, at last again scribbling to you! I do not 
know whether you have gone back to the old rectory; 
but I will address this there, unless I hear, before 
putting this up, that you are at some other given 

I have much to say, as to your points, and a good 
many things about my own experience. 

1. ... 

2. I am delighted you have now read Plato's Phado 

Letters to a Niece 157 

four times. How fine, if gradually, you get to know all 
the Dialogues (except those six or seven very technical 
ones) as well as this one! Margaret Roper, Sir Thomas 
More's daughter, doted upon Plato in the Greek 
original; I shall be glad indeed if my own Niece- 
daughter comes to know Plato, almost as well, in 
the English translation. 

3. ... 

4. I had three most happy, I hope useful, days at 
Beaconsfield. There were nine of us in all. Mr. W. B. 
Trevelyan, the head of the house a second cousin of 
G. M. Trevelyan (who wrote on Wycliffe and Gari- 
baldi); and his young sub-warden both very High 
Anglican clerics; then Mr. Hockley, Rector of Liverpool, 
a tall, black-haired, manly creature; also Mr. Carey, 
second-in-command of the Gowley Fathers a straight, 
simple man; a bishop returned, after eighteen years' 
work in Bloemfontein (South Africa), a year ago 
a fatherly, genial man; a Mr. Platts, Vicar of 
St. Michael's, a High Ritual church close to Thekla's 
convent zealous, straight; and finally a charming 
layman, Mr. Arthur Smallwood, Governor of Green- 
wich Hospital, about forty years old, with whom I 
got some very private talk. No; there was one man 
more: Father Denys, one of the three Anglican 
Benedictines who did not go over to Rome when, 
some fifteen years ago, the other twelve or so of the 
community of Galdy did so. I like this Father Denys 
much. I certainly think the position of a Benedictine 
not accepting the jurisdiction of the Pope a very 
strange one. But if "Charity covereth a multitude of 
sins," good faith is compatible with, and expresses 
itself in a multitude of strangely illogical positions. 

158 Baron Von HugePs 

And deliberate self-renunciation is everywhere dear 
and darling. And then this Father Denys is evidently 
a man of much spiritual shrewdness and extraordinarily 
wide reading. 

They certainly gave me lots to do. Half an hour's 
speech at the preliminary meeting as to the precise 
order and spirit of our conference; an address of one 
hour; and answers to questions on it, for another 
hour, on the Wednesday all as to facts about God, 
specially useful to know in prayer; on Thursday, 
address of an hour, and answers for an hour both 
as regards the facts about the soul, most useful to know 
in prayer. And besides, I got some private talks 
with Mr. Platts, Father Denys and Mr. Smallwood 
(as already said). 

My chief general impressions were, I think, three, 
(i.) What clean, good, straight, humble, earnest men! 
My Gwen, you can add them, I am sure, all eight, 
to the list of thoroughly clean men I tried to make 
out for you the other day. (ii.) How greatly, even in 
a sense excessively, they were under the spell of Rome 
the mighty Mother. I felt it in their attitude towards 
myself, which was very certainly not only, not even 
chiefly, because of my individual personality, but 
because I was a Roman Catholic, trained in, and who 
could tell them about, that Mother Church. When 
I said just now, "excessive," I mean that I found 
them with little or no discrimination between what, 
with us, is the substance and unchangeable, and what 
is, again with us, the accident as the changing, or at 
least changeable, discipline of the Church. 

And (iii.) that final question showed, I thought, 
that they attributed too much power to training, for 

Letters to a Niece 159 

they asked whether the spirit and life of an Abbe 
Huvelin should not be taught and trained into such 
Anglicans as were prepared for the clerical life, and 
especially those who were to have the care of souls. 
I answered that certainly it would be well, more and 
more to improve such preparation; but that I was 
confident such men as Huvelin would always be rare, 
anywhere and at all times. That he himself, e.g. had 
derived only a fragment of what he was and became, 
from his technical, seminary training; that I thought 
it would be well to teach the average Church student 
that there were there existed deep, rare souls, both 
amongst the laity and amongst the clerics, and to 
encourage such student to refer such rare lay-folk to 
the one or two deeply spiritual clerics he might be 
taught to know about. That if Anglicans managed to 
have, say, two such deeply spiritual clerics in each 
diocese, they should be esteemed richly favoured. That 
only great graces, many natural gifts, much suffering, 
and devoted heroism all this or much of all this 
combined would ever produce an Abbe Huvelin or 
a Cure d'Ars. 

5. Have had a bad night, so must stop this my second 
go at this letter. May all be going well, or at least 
better with you, Child. 

Loving old Father-Uncle, 


Poor Muriel! But how brave she is being. 


2. As to Socrates (= Plato) in the (Protagoras), you 
must not apologise for your dissatisfaction on those 

160 Baron Von HugeTs 

two points; for you are right, deeply right, about them. 
Indeed there is also a third point, about which Socrates 
(= Plato) here is equally mistaken or undiscriminative. 
Let me write the three points out clearly. 

(i.) Courage= knowledge; indeed virtue of any kind 
= knowledge. This is certainly false, for the reasons 
you give. But you will have noticed that Socrates fully 
confesses that mankind at large does not take this 
view. Well mankind at large was and is, on this 
point, closer to the facts, than Socrates or Plato. But, 
besides men generally, there were also ancient Graeco- 
Roman thinkers and poets who felt and who taught 
the opposite Ovid wrote: 

Video meliora proboquc; 
Dctcriora scquor? 

I see the better and I approve it; and (yet) I follow 
the worse. Yet it is Christianity, in the completion of 
the Hebrew prophetic religion, which, as against the 
Graeco-Roman world generally, has established the 
full facts has made me see and feel most vividly the 
difference between knowledge and virtue, between a 
clear head and a clean heart. On this point Kant is 
deeply Christian, when he insists upon the good will 
as supremely precious, and when, in his doctrine of 
Radical Evil, he holds that men can and do deliberately 
prefer evil to good. 

(ii.) Socrates (= Plato) lumps, in his doctrine of 
opposites, two very different things hopelessly together. 
There is (a) the contrary, the different say, blue and 
yellow, compared with red, among colours; or notes 
A, C, compared with D, among sounds. Here, two 
things, say two virtues, though distinct and different 

Letters to a Niece 161 

from each other, can yet, perfectly well, co-exist 
alongside of, or in union with, or fusion each with 
the other. 

And there is (b) the contradictory, where one thing is 
the direct negation of the other; so with light, and 
absence of all light, etc. Here no one thing can, in 
any one and the same respect, contain, or be composed 
of, such contradictories. Thus, among the virtues, a 
man cannot, in precisely the same respect, be both 
courageous and cowardly. 

(iii.) Socrates (= Plato) insists here on the good as 
just simply the pleasant; nor will he allow any action 
to be measured as to the morality except according 
as, at least eventually, it issues in pleasure or at least 
a surplusage of pleasure. Now here Socrates (= Plato) 
has not arrived at the profoundly important distinc- 
tion between pleasure and beatitude (joy). He as yet 
does not see that evil doing, in certainly the greater 
number of cases, occurs simply because it is connected 
with some immediate pleasure; whereas, doing right 
is very frequently connected with the sacrifice of some 
immediate pleasure or the facing of some immediate 
pain yet the yielding to sheer pleasure is the sure 
road to losing all beatitude, to losing even the sense of 
what it means. Whereas the resisting of sheer pleasure, 
according as right reason and duty may demand, is 
the sure road to joy. I take it that Socrates (= Plato) 
not seeing this (iii.) is the chief cause why he holds 
his (i). For if once we vividly perceive that virtue 
consists essentially in holding out against sheer pleasure 
for solid joy, and that evil doing consists essentially in 
yielding to sheer pleasure and thus losing solid joy; 

1 62 Baron Von Hugel's 

there is no need, there is no room, for knowledge, 
still less for the identity of knowledge with virtue. Yet 
note, Child, how these three errors are not errors pure 
and simple; but that they are stages on the way to 
precious truths. For: as to (i), it is true that there 
exists much material (== non-formal) evil doing; that 
men do what in itself is evil, often out of sheer ignorance 
that it is evil. And with his searching about for a 
knowledge as somehow close to virtue, Socrates 
(= Plato) is working his way towards a system of 
objective ethics what, especially nowadays, we want 
again very badly. As to (2), it is true that the several 
virtues have ultimately to be conceded as expressions, 
dispositions, effects, etc., of one and the same soul. 
Hence that, however different they may look, they 
must not be conceived as utterly unlike each other. 
And as to (3), the end, the final measure, of virtue is 
indeed a state of soul the very opposite of unhappiness, 
constraint, disgust. Socrates (= Plato) is here after 
the supreme good, the utter joy, which, so far, he 
understates horribly by the petty term of pleasure. 

So glad of your post card too, and that you have 
got to the Gorgias. You see that list I gave you will, 
if followed out, give you Plato as he grows, as he corrects 
himself. You will end by taking the mature Plato and 
correcting the immature Plato by the mature Plato, 
only that, no doubt, certain characteristically Hellenic 
weaknesses remain, more or less, to the end. E.g. of 
the above three points, No. (i) remains, in parts, to 
the very end; but not so No. (2) nor No. (3). 

Loving old, 


Letters to a Niece 163 


My darling Gwen-Child, 9 December, 1921. 

I have indeed been silent a long time with, now, 
three dear and interesting letters of yours to answer. 
The reasons of this have been two. I have been a good 
deal tried by that arterial pressure at night; and as 
the doctor had told me that the less exertion there was 
in my day, the less I should suffer from it at night, 
I determined to try what cutting down everything at 
all avoidable would do. I am certainly now free from 
that pressure, or, at least, from those effects though, 
I suspect, only for a little spell. Yet I am deeply 
thankful for it, since it means capacity for my com- 
position work. My second reason was that I was 
trying to get you the Cure d'Ars, and that stupid postal 
losses of the first order have delayed my receiving 
the books till to-day. I now send you, as presents, the 
Life of the Cure, two volumes, and his Spirit, in one 
little volume. (The Esprit repeats in part the sayings 
registered in the Vie; but adds many fresh sayings.) 
I wanted to send you these volumes ready bound, but 
received them thus; and I think it better not first to 
get them bound, as you would then not have the 
books till after Christmas. I have cut the books open 
for you, as I believe myself to be expert at this. I trust 
and believe that the Cure's spirit will sink into your 
heart, and help you greatly on to geniality, humility, 
peace and happiness in God and for Him. 

As to the young ex-curate, now one of our people; 
how difficult, indeed how impossible, it is to judge 

164 Baron Von Hugel's 

whether such extreme renunciation is quite sound in 
and for that particular soul, and will help it on to 
deep but quite balanced self-renunciation (as in Abbe 
Huvelin, the Cure d'Ars, etc.), or whether it is going 
to lead to dangerous reactions, etc. The Christian 
life, at its deepest and highest, is certainly not mere, 
not sheer, common sense. And yet in the long run 
some common sense has got to get into it, unless it 
is to come to grief something like with visions and 
the excellent advice Edward Talbot gave you con- 
cerning them. There, too, one has just simply to wait, 
and, meanwhile, not to treat such things as central 
or as the measure of our advance or closeness to God. 
As to whether converts to Rome are proselytisers. 
I think at first, as a rule, they are. Surely this is not 
difficult to understand. Such souls have generally 
come, with considerable sacrifices, and, at the time, 
with much spiritual light and fervour, to see and 
feel sure of various facts which they before saw 
fitfully or hardly at all. They very easily all but 
inevitably forget or overlook the not inconsiderable 
lights or helps they had before; and they have not 
yet been long enough in the old Church to have 
experienced its human poornesses nor to have them- 
selves, within that Church, passed through desolation 
and reaction. My brother told me of an interesting 
conversation he had with our Bishop Brownlow, after 
the latter had been one of our priests and then a 
bishop some forty-eight years since he had been an 
Anglican High Church curate. My brother told him 
how he sometimes felt himself to be possibly quite 
wrong in not being more active and enterprising in 
trying to gain individual Protestants to the Church. 

Letters to a Niece 165 

That, as a matter of fact, he did nothing direct in this 
way he never took the first step. The bishop answered 
that, after the first few years of his Roman Catholic 
life, when his zeal was restless and, he had now long 
thought, indiscreet, he also had never pressed anyone; 
had never taken the first step with anyone; that he 
had now seen for many a long year how easy it is to 
disturb souls from out of what contains much truth 
and which they can and do assimilate to their spiritual 
profit, and to push and strain them up to something 
to which they are not really called and of which they 
do not know what to make. That his conscience did 
not upbraid him in this matter for the many later 
years of his priestly and episcopal life; and that as to 
those first years he hoped that he had not been as 
unwise as he might have been. 

Also, an experienced old priest (himself an early 
convert to the Roman Catholic Church) once told 
me that he had long found it a bad sign when converts 
were not at least inclined to be active proselytisers. 
That with born Roman Catholics it was different: these 
could be thoroughly zealous in their religion, and yet 
not be thus active, or inclined to be thus active. 

As to myself, I find myself inclined to be very zealous 
to help souls to make the most of what they already 
have; and, if they come to think of moving, to test 
them to the uttermost. And again, to do all I can 
to make the old Church as inhabitable intellectually as 
ever I can not because the intellect is the most 
important thing in religion it is not; but because the 
old Church already possesses in full the knowledge and 
the aids to spirituality, whilst, for various reasons which 
would fill a volume, it is much less strong as regards 

1 66 Baron Von 

the needs, rights and duties of the mental life. This 
my second zeal includes the ardent wish and hope of 
serving sore and sulky, fallen-off or falling-off Roman 
Catholics to heal their wounds and bring them back. 
One fallen-away Roman Catholic gives me more pain 
than a hundred accessions to the Church give me joy. 
For it is the sticking it which really matters in these 
things and which is difficult. 

As to Mother Julian, where on earth has my Gwen- 
child acquired the notion that she was an Anglican! 
An Anglican in A.D. 1360? My Gwen, we must do 
some Church history later on! Of course she accepted 
the Pope as she accepted Christ and as she accepted 
God; although there was then no occasion to put 
this forward. 

What you say about prayer, Sweet, is all very true, 
very solid. I know well what you mean. But though 
we will most rightly shrink from saying that this or 
that in it is God: yet it is God, His Reality, His Distinct- 
ness from yet great Closeness to us, it is this grand 
Over-againstness which through, and in, and on occa- 
sion of what you describe we experience in our little 
degree. What comes last in our analysis of such states, 
is first in real existence. I enclose for you a little article 
which (as all except my big book) was spontaneously 
asked of me, title included. Do not, Dear, dwell much 
upon or worry about the Pope. It is not for that that 
I send it to you. Nor do I want you to lend it for that 
to others who might be pressed or worried by it. I send 
it because of the contrata bit; and because I am utterly 
sure that this is the direct antidote to the all but 
universal Pantheism of our times. Before people worry 
about the Church or even about Christ, they must be 

Letters to a Niece 167 

helped to get God their notions as to God sound 
and strong. 

I also include a fine letter of Mrs. Clement Webb, 
because you will admire what she says about suffering, 
and because of the charming bit about Richard and 
yourself. I do not require it back. 

As to the Sadhu, I feel with you that we ought never 
to forget his non-Europeanness. How strange that 
profound difference between East and West. Why, in 
some real way, the Sadhu, all Christian though he be, 
is further away than are Plato and even Socrates! The 
Sadhu's visions are strangely wooden, leathery things, 
astonishingly other than, and inferior to, the revela- 
tions or visions of Mother Julian or of St. Teresa. 
It is in this matter especially that the object of the 
book its object in the mind of Streeter, not, I think, 
of Appasamy is not attained: the object being to 
show that a man as entirely outside of any Christian 
body or Church, can be as deep and delicate, as 
valuable a mystic, as are the mystics belonging to 
the Church. Streeter really proves the opposite of 
what he wants to prove. 

As to Plato, I am delighted you are taking to him so 
strongly. I hope you will end by being steeped in him; 
by having read all the Dialogues we have fixed upon 
at least four times each; and that you will come to 
be able to compare Dialogue with Dialogue, and to 
use Plato generally, for comparison and criticism in 
your non-Platonic reading. I am trying to follow you 
in these your Plato readings: have so done the Protagoras 
and half of the Gorgias. So glad you are at the Phesdrus 
and soon at the Symposium. And mind to admire the 
Meno I love it! 

1 68 Ear on Von Hugel's 

As to taking the three children abroad for those 
three months, how excellent! Yet there is one modi- 
fication of your plan which (but for possible valid 
reasons contrary, unknown to me) would seem an 
improvement to me. You very rightly regret the lack 
of German and Italian among you four. But why not 
hold out Germany and Italy as a reward, some other 
year, of German and Italian acquired at least by 
some of you? You would this coming 1922 go to France 
and, if you liked, French Switzerland, staying, say, a 
week or ten days in Paris there seeing thoroughly 
the great galleries, Versailles, Fontainebleau, etc. Then 
to the great cathedral cities Rouen, Tours, Orleans, 
etc., and staying quietly, for, say, a month, in Brittany, 
there really to know that fine earnest race. I am very 
sure that staying in new countries, amongst other races, 
is an immensely educative influence. But you must 
really stay with them, speaking their language, sharing 
their life. And I am equally sure that mere travel, 
mere maximum moving about, is sterilising rather 
than improving. 

Loving old Uncle-Father, 



1 3 December, 1921. 

So glad you have got the books, and letters and 
article packet. No hurry for a letter from you, though 
it will be most welcome when it comes! 

This is merely to express my distress that you should 
have attempted Plato's Parmenides or the Philebus. Have 

Letters to a Niece 169 

you forgotten how we settled that you would not touch 
any of the six Critical Dialogues, as all being far too 
difficult? I think that resolution most important, as 
otherwise you will get bewildered, strained, and then 
sick of Plato. You have plenty of him to read: Meno, 
Cratylus, the Republic as long as four or five ordinary 
Dialogues and the Laws, even longer; and then all 
over again and again, comparing one with the others. 
As to the Cure d'Ars pray read the two big volumes 
before the little one. You will see how sweet old 
Mile. Ars is also. 

F. v. H. 


20 January, 1922. 

Here I am, my darling Gwen-Child, scribbling to 
you after getting released, only last night at eleven- 
thirty (when I could turn into bed), from my last 
three weeks' grind. I wonder a little, sometimes, my 
little old thing, whether you quite realise the costing- 
ness of my life what a lot it necessarily takes out of 
me, how little of nerve and brain force it leaves me, 
when my direct work of thinking and exploring in 
and with Faith, Love and Practice has been done? 
You see I cannot apprehend anything seriously with- 
out tension, I mean my very way of taking anything 
involves much tension. And this is why there readily 
come misgivings to me when I gain any great influence 
either with young men or with women (whether young 
or not). For both these sets of God's creatures of my 
fellow-creatures cannot, I think, stand much tension. 

i jo Baron J^on Hugel^s 

They either break down physically under it, or their 
faith collapses under the strain, or (the best that can 
happen to them) they either get away from such 
strongly tensional individuals, or learn to dwell in such 
individuals, upon the harmonies in them and not 
the tensions anyhow, my Dearie, the costliness, at 
least to myself, of the kind of work I have again been 
at, plus the endless business, friendliness, etc., of the 
time of year, have alone caused my silence. 

I find that I have four letters from you unanswered, 
except by a post card for the first, and another post 
card for the last one. I will first write some words 
about each of your chief points and, indeed, about 
yourself generally. And I will then tell the chief doings 
and experiencings since last I wrote you a letter. 

First as to the letter 13 December. I am so glad 
that you then, and later on again, liked the Cure 
d'Ars so much. It seems to me you could, with great 
profit, absorb into your life pretty well the whole of 
him in his darling simplicity, his continuous self- 
oblivion, his absorption in God, and yet his amazingly 
large attention to others, especially to the poor and the 
lost. I have just now been again using him amongst 
my illustrations, and as always, with the greatest con- 
fidence and consolation. You know that at Thekla's 
convent the very experienced prioress has placed a 
statuette (a beautiful one) of the cure in prayer on to 
the table in the centre of their chapter house, as an 
encouragement to them to persevere in their in his 
in their joint kind of prayer of pure love. 

Then I am so glad you love Plato's Meno so; it is 
one of my favourite dialogues perhaps the one which 
I carry most constantly in my head. 

Letters to a Niece 171 

Then there is the strange but very dear old clergyman 
(here are his, somehow very sweet, letters back, with 
thanks) . I am very glad he has got you to read Scott's 
Heart of Midlothian a book I know well and admire 
much. I am a bit surprised you had never read it! 
But have you already noted one thing, Sweet? That 
dear old cleric I feel quite sure is one more living 
refutation of the "all men have something to hide" 
doctrine. There is that about him which cannot coexist 
with any sex impurity. Either he has never lost his 
baptismal innocence (the more likely alternative, 
I think), or he has long and long ago fully, deeply 
repented of any early lapses that may have occurred. 
St. Augustine is there to prove to all men of good 
faith that such recovery is fully possible. 

In this same letter you dwell upon how one helpful, 
spiritual writer after the other turns out to be a 
Roman Catholic, whereas the Protestant bodies, even 
Anglicanism, have, most at least, to go to those others 
for spiritual classics. I think this is no prejudice of 
yours, my Gwen-child. But I think a certain advantage 
is extant on the other side. Not, I think, in Protestantism 
as such even there; but because, alongside of much 
licence. Protestantism has at least ended by leaving 
liberty to scholars. I mean even such liberty as is 
necessary for a really cogent defence of the Catholic 
Faith. The official representatives of the Catholic 
Church, on the contrary, have mostly, or generally, 
struck away from such liberty. Yet this advantage of 
Protestantism is immediately lost by it when it becomes 
pointedly, polemically Protestant; it is then at once 
more narrow and unseeing than is the narrowest 
Roman Catholicism. And certainly the finest Roman 

172 Baron Von Huge/'s 

Catholic scholars, when and where they are allowed 
elbow-room, remain the worthy descendants of those 
Roman Catholic scholars who so Mabillon the 
Benedictine, Richard Simon the Oratorian, and Denys 
Petau the Jesuit, all in the seventeenth century were 
respectively the founders of the science of history, 
of Biblical criticism, and of the history of Christian 

As to the letter of 2 1 December. You understand, 
of course, that I have excluded that group of Plato's 
Dialogues from your reading, only because of their 
great technicality and difficulty. If the day comes 
when, having read and re-read all the others, you 
feel you know them so well that you could understand 
fresh problems raised by him upon the conclusions 
reached by him so far, you could then try your hand 
at these dialogues also. Fortunately these dialogues 
are much the least beautiful in form, and contain 
least of sayings directly utilisable for religion or ethics. 
But they are free from any such blemishes as appear 
in the Symposium and the Republic. 

I shall love your getting back to Plato. 

Perhaps, by now, you have seen that review of my 
book in the Times Literary Supplement, and my letter 
there in answer to it. Mr. Bruce Richmond has written 
me the kindest letter about it all that he had wished 
to give me pleasure, and was so sorry he had failed. 
But he added what took all distress about the incident 
out of my mind that the review was not, as I thought, 
by Canon Barnes (one of the canons of Westminster 
Abbey), who, in a review of a book by Dean Inge, 
had written a most handsome sentence about my 
writings, and who (I sadly thought) had now changed 

Letters to a Niece 173 

his mind about my work. I still believe that my letter 
was more or less necessary; but I see, as a friend 
points out, that I have missed one of the chief diffi- 
culties in cases such as that of Anthony Trollope 
that he, Anthony Trollope, was, highly probably, 
baptised, and validly baptised. Yet baptism, according 
to the universal orthodox doctrine, implants in the 
baptised soul the seeds of the supernatural life. 

If I wrote the letter now, I would still bring up the 
Anthony Trollopes of the world, but would declare 
that I had never yet found a fully satisfactory answer 
to the problem presented by such baptised persons, even 
though I continued to feel that a doctrine, equivalent to 
the ancient doctrine of Limbo, could be fruitfully used in 
face of the problem of the apparently purely natural 
goodness of at least many of the unbaptised. 

And then the pathetic bit about your gardener's 
father so ill; and the gardener's wife your only usual 
companion at Holy Communion! 

Then your letter of 29 December showed so well 
how much and how exactly rightly you feel about 
Christmas that immensely warm and expansive, 
lowly and homely, utterly touching feast. And I love 
to think of David at Holy Communion with you 
there, and then you and Olivia at a service in the 
cathedral. And then came the funeral of your 
gardener's father. 

What you say of the ignorance of the poor about 
Our Lord and their practical heathenism is sad indeed, 
yet I believe it true. 

As to the young convert living out in the fields, I too 
wonder about him. I mean, that he is being straight 
and devoted is plain enough. But is he being wise? 

174 Baron Von 

And has he anyone wise to advise him, and does he 
attend to such an one? 

First, off and on during December I had a good deal 
to do to help a lady whom I have known for, I think, 
fifteen years at least, a woman who has much religious 
influence with many souls; and who, if she succeeds in 
becoming more harmonious and more deep in herself, 
will do much pure good instead of as now, I think, 
not a little harm mixed with some good. She asked 
me to help her in all her spiritual views, practices, 
etc. First she wrote me out very humbly and simply 
as to where she stood, etc. I drew up, in response, 
a rough set of rules and proposals which she came 
here for me to develop to her. She was then asked to 
let me have a second report as to how the proposals 
struck her for direct execution in her life. And the 
second report she then furnished was carefully criticised 
by me in my final advice to her, which grew into a 
bulky affair. It was impossible to be much shorter 
with a person who has read very much and thought 
very much; who began as a Pantheistically-inclined 
Agnostic; and who, although she now, I am happy to 
say, goes to Anglican Holy Communion, and indeed 
also to Mass, and even to Benediction at the Carmelites 
here, never, I found, prays to Our Lord; indeed she 
declared that she never could do so! She has under- 
taken to carry out, in great simplicity, the proposals 
which I ended by making very definite. She would 
strive gently to bring consistency into her life, by at 
least thinking of Our Lord at Holy Communion; and 
she would give as much time to visiting, and to attend- 
ing to, the poor, as ever she could without neglecting 
other duties. She has settled now to give two afternoons 

Letters to a Niece 175 

a week to them; and to try and learn by their needs 
the need of religion of a definitely historical kind 
the need of Our Lord, His Life, His Death, His Sacred 
Person. She is to report at midsummer how things have 
gone. My Gwen; you who have the great grace to love 
and to worship Christ our Lord, pray for this soul, 
please. I promise to tell you how she gets on. But, 
purposely, I am not going to see her in between- whiles. 
Then I have had vividly brought home to me a 
difficulty (a purely social, educational difficulty which 
all my life has dogged my steps) as to what degree of 
experience, learning, tension, etc., is good and wise 
for such and such young people, or (even generally) 
for people generally. You see, I had felt so glad and 
proud at the thought of Professor Troeltsch coming 
with me, next July, to Swanwick, where he would 
address some seven hundred young men and young 
women university students on religion. I felt so sure 
that the Christian Student Movement authorities 
would accept this, that I told Troeltsch of my efforts, 
adding that the thing could be quite sure only after 
the Executive Committee had decided in September. 
But when, at end of November, I still had received 
no news, I wrote to the Secretary, Christian Student 
Movement, asking what had become of the plan, and 
Mr. Tatlow answered that as soon as he had put the 
plan to the Executive Committee (all university 
students), the large majority at once protested hotly 
against it. That the Christian Student Movement 
Statutes opened out with a declaration that only 
Christians who accept the historic Creeds could belong 
to the movement; that surely also only such Christians 
could be asked by the Committee to speak to the young 

ij6 Baron Von Hilgefs 

people at this, their supremely religious, gathering; and 
that if once they let in Professor Troeltsch, they would 
not be able to exclude from their platforms Quakers 
or Unitarians or Theosophists. That my own case 
was distinctly different that they would much like 
to have me:, but, as to Troeltsch, no. Mr. Tatlow added 
that a small minority did want to have him; and that 
he had thought the matter so important, that he was 
asking a certain number of experienced mature friends 
of the movement what they would have him do. And 
that, meanwhile, he would like me to tell him clearly 
why I had thought of Troeltsch for them, and again 
how I felt, now that I had their statutes and this 
opposition so plainly before me. To this I answered 
that I had been close friends and the most careful 
student with and of Troeltsch for some thirty-five 
years; that, all that time, I had learnt nothing but 
good, and the rarest good, from him, since he had 
helped me greatly to keep and to increase a joyous 
faith in God, and had brought me back to a full (and 
fuller than ever) admiration of the Golden Middle 
Age. That a Quaker, several liberal Lutherans (like 
Troeltsch), and a Unitarian had much helped me 
religiously, I mean right up to the consolidation of 
my historic, Roman Catholic, Christian faith. Hence 
I had felt these young people might greatly profit, 
and would hardly suffer damage from Troeltsch. 
That the mere fact of their statutes did not arrest me, 
since even the best rules (and these seemed very good) 
were liable to exceptions. And that I continued to 
feel it very difficult to believe that even people so 
young as his should not be exposed to influence far 
more dangerous than could be the influence of Troeltsch 

Letters to a Niece 177 

in his least orthodox strain. Besides, that Troeltsch had 
spontaneously undertaken not to speak a word which 
had not previously been considered by me. And yet 
that his, Mr. Tatlow's, communication had pulled me 
up in this wise, that I had been made to remember 
that I was at least thirty-five when Troeltsch first 
came into my life, and a fully formed man, whereas 
these young people were all between eighteen and 
twenty-four. And then I had had to recognise how 
I had, more than once (and once to a saddening 
degree), myself presupposed too much maturity, too 
much carrying power in those I had influenced, and 
this had had, for long, very sad results. So that, unless 
the seniors he had referred the matter to were prac- 
tically all for Troeltsch, I wanted him, Mr. Tatlow, 
to decide against asking him to Swanwick. End of 
December, Mr. Tatlow wrote, definitely declining 
to have Professor Troeltsch at Swanwick; that I still 
did not realise what immature, unformed, callow, 
ignorant minds they had to deal with. But that the 
officials the mature and paid men of the movement 
would esteem it an honour to listen to Troeltsch next 
September, at their London meeting. I have still to 
write to Troeltsch that the Swanwick thing is off, and 
that I do not think the London thing would be worth 
his coming all that way. I shrink from doing so, as 
it may a bit pain that very sensitive man; but I must 
just do it, as well as I can! 

And then, lastly, these last three weeks have been 
chock full of "Priest and Prophet." 

I ended by scribbling out in pencil a MS. so long 
that, though I spoke for seventy minutes, I could 
only use up a little over a third of the whole. I learnt 

1 7 8 Ear 'on Von Huge I 'j 

a lot in working it out. I think the chief points which 
I got to see more clearly than ever before were that 
Jesus was in conflict, roughly speaking, not with the 
priests that came only quite at the end, but with the 
Pharisees, who were all laymen to a man; and again that 
the reason of Our Lord's vehemence against them 
was because, claiming to be the religious teachers of 
the people at large, they made religion unbearably 
heavy and complicated for the poor the poor being 
precisely those to whom He had come to preach the 
Good Tidings. This preaching to the poor, He had 
placed as the culminating work and credential of His 
life, in His great answer to the inquiry of John the 
Baptist; and hence the glorious "Come unto Me," 
and the "laden and heavy burdened," with His 
contrasting "yoke" which is "sweet," and His burden 
which is light, aims, in the first instance, at the 
Pharisees. Now the descendants of the Pharisees are, 
quite plainly, not (at least not necessarily) priests, 
but such over-cultivated Puritan lay theologians as, 
e.g. the Unitarians. They, too, have no Gospel for the 
poor, whereas Jesus has, and first of all for them; you 
and I come afterwards! Also, the priests still, in 
Jesus's time, stood for friendly contacts with matter; 
the Pharisees, for vigilant hostility to all such contacts. 
True, the Pharisees practised endless washings; but 
these were for purification from all sorts of contacts 
with matter of all kinds. And true, also, the priests 
practised ablutions; yes, but they practised them as 
preparations for contact with other kinds of matter, 
in the sacrifice, the anointings, incense, etc. Jesus 
stands out quite plainly on the contacts side: so in 
the cure of the woman with the issue of blood, of the 

Letters to a Niece 179 

lepers, etc. All these things were an abomination to 
the Pharisees. 

Well now, Sweet, good night! Oh, may you succeed 
in not over-straining your precious health and in 
managing some grand rest, expansion and peace. 
God bless you. Pray for me. 

Loving old, 



Darling Child, 24 January, 1922. 

This only in answer to the confession questions. 

1. You have hit upon the very difficulty which 
I foresaw for you in any at all frequent confession. 
It is one which you would feel, far more definitely, 
if you were a Roman Catholic, having to confess 
(if a frequent communicant) at least every three 
weeks, as I do. 

2. Confession is for sins, and nothing else. Hence 
no confession of general unworthiness, also no con- 
fession of general imperfections of your natural 
character that you are too sensitive, too vehement, 
etc.: all quite true, but no more for confession than 
that your nose is too long. St. Francois de Sales was a 
good while in getting St. Chantale out of the way of 
confessing such constitutional defects. 

3. Give yourself not more than fifteen minutes at 
most of quiet, leisurely, circumspect, warm and loving 
preparation gently recalling the situations in which 
you have been since last confession: all this after, of 
course, asking Our Lord to give you light and love 

180 Baron Von Huget^s 

for seeing. If anything then pricks you keep that for 
your confession, always confessing first whatever may 
be most difficult to confess, then make a gentle, quiet, 
firm, but not straining, act of contrition. And after all 
this no deliberate recurrence to the subject. 

4. If nothing thus pricks you no strain, no trouble, 
no occupation with this fact. But, if you do go to 
confession notwithstanding, simply explain that you 
could find nothing committed since the last confession, 
so and so long ago; and re-confess the biggest thing you 
confessed before but very gently, with your soul 
turned to Christ, your light and love and life. 

5. If Edward Talbot recommends you to go to 
confession thus often (every six months) I should 
like you to go, otherwise, to spread out the time even 
more. For, as you know, in the Church's early cen- 
turies, the faithful (saintly souls included) went only 
for grave sin, in public confession, to the bishop. We 
must not expect, I do not want that back. Still, the 
relation between more or less deliberate sin and con- 
fession it is certainly wise to keep up, as far as possible, 
and not to let one's confessions degenerate into a sort 
of flea-hunt, a straining to discover sins. 

Pray for me. 

Loving old Uncle, 

F. v. H. 


My darling Gwen-Child, 28 February, 1922. 

I was sorry to see your half-sheet to Aunt Mary this 
morning I mean, as to your chill and sickness. For, 

Letters to a Niece 181 

as to your coming here for those nights, it is, of course, 
delicious. We both like this, very much. And we will 
have, I trust, at least two talks, won't we? I can easily 
manage such in the afternoons. Friday and Saturday, 
I have teaching; but even then we would arrange 
or for after dinner though, no, that is Aunt Mary's 
time with you. 

Aunt Mary thinks you will have caught this chill 
in this my study, which is, of course, a further reason 
for distress. But I undertake to have a good fire alight 
half an hour before you turn up in here, unless the 
weather is truly summery. 

I trust, though, you will now be quickly right again. 
You said nothing about headaches; I trust that means 
they have hardly molested you lately. 

After our talk I had some scruples I felt that I 
had, somehow, been straining your brain, and that 
for matters more of general religiosity than of the 
definite religion we love. I will try to do better next 
time. Also I never asked after the children their 
health; whilst you asked so nicely after us three. 

Well, I also write because I like to be in touch 
with you on starting Lent to-morrow. I am again 
cutting myself off from buying any books for myself 
till after Easter. But that would hardly do for you, you 
buy, doubtless, so few, Sweet. You have so many 
trials sent you by God, Dearie your headaches, 
housework (when considerable), money anxieties and 
bigger trials still, that I suspect the trying to meet and 
utilise all this extra well during the forty days will be 
all, and quite enough, for you, unless Edward Talbot 
has made some suggestions they would be sure to 
be wise. 

1 82 Baron Von 

I have been having a strange correspondence with 
Loisy, on a point which shows how strangely unalive 
he is to the most obvious evidences counter to his 
utterly inadequate Religion of Humanity. He actually 
claims that M. Littre's last months that all that 
M. Huvelin observed then, is a fine illustration of this, 
Loisy's, present conception of religion. Whereas, of 
course, it is precisely the opposite. M. Littre had 
lived fifty years a believer in, and propagator of, that 
"Religion." And then God sent him an experience 
which made him feel a new world in process of reveal- 
ing itself to him, in which a keen sense of sin, a deep 
contrition, were central. Loisy argues that because 
M. Littre did not die an explicit Catholic or Christian, 
or even Theist, there was no change within the 
"Religion of Humanity." Strange obtuseness in one 
usually so even excessively awake! 

Well, Sweet, get well, Blessing; don't overwork either 
body or mind or soul. God loves you and touches you 
to love Him. What more do we want? 

Loving old Fatherly, 

F. v. H. 

You must not hurry on the readings, all can wait! 
At Holy Communion for you to-morrow morning, 


My darling Gwen-Child, 1 1 April, 1922. 

I want you to get a letter from me on the day of 
Olivia's confirmation. Indeed I have also written 
herself a little one enclosed which pray give to her. 

Letters to a Niece 183 

I so love to trust and believe that she will take the 
act really seriously, and that the Christian's fight 
against "self" whatever may be the particular form 
and degree of "self" in the particular soul will begin, 
or rather will grow deeper and firmer, with her 

My darling Niece-Child! How happy I am to think 
of you in bed, and in bed, and in bed, and not doing 
anything, not even reading, beyond just what your 
strength permits ! What a lot we can grow spiritually 
that is, how much more solidly anchored in the peace 
and beatitude of God we can become by simply thus 
resigning ourselves, as cheerfully as- possible, to such 
do-nothing, which indeed, where and when nature 
requires it, can be most refreshing. 

I am so glad, too, you listen and watch the birds. 
I shall try and get for you a "remainder" copy (the 
book is quite out of print) of Alfred Newton's Dictionary 
of Birds a truly engrossing work. There you can read 
up all about the particular habits, migrations, etc., of 
each of these birds. 

I have striven to find for you those L.S.S.R. remarks 
of mine on the four papers about God so far without 
success. But I do not doubt I shall end by finding and 
sending you them. The two Beaconsfield addresses are, 
I find, in a lady's hands, who has promised their early 
return. These also you shall have as soon as I get them 
back, but to-day I send you something that I spoke a 
week ago at an extra meeting of our L.S.S.R. The copy 
of my remarks is for you to keep; the abstract of 
Mr. Joseph Wicksteed's paper is for you to return 
some time, when quite done with. Joseph Wicksteed 
is the son of that very noble man certainly a most 

184 Baron Von Hugefs 

striking intelligence Philip Wicksteed (great on 
Dante and Aquinas). 

I was very happy, though, whilst working at this 
criticism of mine; my toil at my new book helped me 
greatly there. 

I loved both your little letters, dear Child; but never 
write when feeling too tired you shall have a copy, 
all your own, of Charles Foucauld; but just at this 
moment I have lent this copy, which I wanted to return 
to you at once, to a man friend. I felt that Foucauld's 
heroic life would draw him, somehow, out of his 
deep depression. 

Have you thought of Scott's Waverley Novels for 
reading, when you want to read and yet are too tired 
for harder books? I think you do not know them 
certainly not all; the Heart of Midlothian was new to 
ycu you would find The Antiquary, Old Mortality, 
Rob Roy, Quentin Durward, Kenilworth, Fortunes of Nigel, 
Peveril of the Peak, first rate. But I will not press you, 
because I myself, when very tired, find but little help 
in novels; to lie in the dark room or to prowl in the 
open with Puck that does me far more good! 

We shall love to have you for that night; and if you 
could turn up by five or even six, you and I might 
have a good talk before dinner I shall keep myself 
free for that', after dinner I shall want Aunt Mary to 
have you. I will show you that big history of De 
Ranee and the beginnings of the Trappists, because 
I fancy it would much interest you; as sometimes a 
long detailed book is better for browsing through, when 
one is ill, than are shorter, more concentrated affairs. 

Darling Puck has a cyst on the right side of his 
neck was with the vet. yesterday but this very 

Letters to a Niece 185 

experienced man says that we can enjoy the darling 
little friend still for several years. 

How stupid of me to think you could walk about, 
and stand, etc., amongst your poor! But London 
shopping that, too, is surely not the thing for you! 
Limit it and the like, Dear, all you can, pray! 

Loving old Uncle, 

F. v. H. 

On Maundy Thursday, day after to-morrow, at my 
Holy Communion, on that, one of my dearest days, the 
little old Niece-Child will, of course, be very specially 

prayed for, and Olivia, indeed all three, and H 

too! God bless you, Child. 


From Letter of 23 May, 1922. 

I am most glad you specially love the Psalms for 
vocal prayer you are here, as I find so generally 
with you, entirely in the mind of the Church. But 
I trust that you do not neglect the Our Father, the 
Apostles' Creed, and the Acts of Faith, Hope and 
Charity and Contrition the first and these last in 
all your morning and night prayers. My business 
began with that meeting of our L.S.S.R. in this house, 
when I tried to show that Our Lord's vehemence 
against the Pharisees was indeed sincere, and must 
be taken by us as indicating grave error in the 
Pharisees, yet that it also was a revival, after some 
six hundred years, of the old, pre-exilic tone and form 
of prophetic denunciation. Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, 

1 86 Baron Von Hugel's 

Jeremiah, they all, pretty well unbrokenly, speak as 
though the only sinners on the land were the men who 
went to church! as though only a quite perfect moral 
life (an ideal never quite attained) left public worship 
anything but a thing without value to God or man 
indeed a thing abominable to God and His prophets. 
There is quite demonstrably here a certain exaggera- 
tion, an "either . . . or," instead of "both . . . and." 
History teaches us quite plainly that there exists no 
such thing as strong and persistent religion without 
public worship, and no public worship which supports 
itself under and by pure contemptuous toleration or 
cheery matter-of-courseness. Public worship requires 
much care, much nurture: does it deserve all these 
pains? Why, of course, yes y and YES again. 

Then my dear friend Duchesne's death, on 2 1 April, 
but known to me only on 30 April, gave me from 
3 May to 17 May much, much trouble and some 
anxiety in the study of his letters to me and the making 
up of my mind what to insert in my letter to the 
T.L.S., and how much to tell of the difficult matters 
of debate which so largely filled his life and my feelings 
and judgments. The thing was to have appeared this 
week, but is now put off to next week a truly diffi- 
cult thing. But, mind, Dear, he was not "pere" 
not a religious, but simply a secular priest, like 
Abbe Huvelin. Then came the final settlements 
with Mr. Thorold for his seeing my Mystical Element 
through the press. 

Then, on 17 May, tea with a sweet old, one-legged, 
Jewish gentleman, full of woe as to the rampant 
anti-Semitism of our day. A dear old thing; must 
talk about him another time. 

Letters to a Niece 187 

And then, 10-20 May, to Cambridge, with Aunt 
Mary, for my brother's honorary degree and garden- 
party. Hillie came down for the day. 

My little old thing: this really must do for now. 
God bless you, and make you well, and help you 
to live, for these months, as much just simply for 
getting well as ever you can. I trust once at Peg 
Antrim's you will be in clover for these purposes. 
Drop, then, all else. 

Loving old Uncle-Father, 

F. v. H. 

I send you nothing till you ask, indeed that is not 
important, nothing is, except what may help you to 
rest and to get well. 


My darling Gwen-Child, 29 June, 1922. 

This is the day of my first Holy Communion fifty-five 
years ago! So I must just write you a scrap at last! For 
that should be the very centre of a Christian's devotional 
life; to live up to that, no one can; but Christ can and 
will help, if only we are attentive and generous. 

I really could not write these last nearly three 
weeks, I fear it is. For I began with a very distinct 
nervous breakdown such an old acquaintance that! 
Why, from eighteen to nearly thirty my life was pretty 
well blotted out by such troubles! They are very 
salutary for one, I find they make one feel one's 
utter dependence upon God, even for getting away 
from utter self-absorption, which then seizes one all 

1 88 Baron Von Hugel's 

round. Nothing but dark rooms and much open air 
is then possible, but that is infallible as a gradual 
restorative after a week or ten days. 

Since then I have been in a condition of brainwork 
in the night, when deep points where I have been 
stuck for the last two years are getting wonderfully 
clear. But this also is very wearing, and also humbles 
one finely. I no more know how these lights are 
reached than I know how a penny in the slot should 
issue in a good, right railway ticket. 

Two nights ago I had such absorbing pains of a 
kind I knew well those which began the months of 
trouble which ended, twice, in big operations, that 
I went round yesterday to the surgeon that did them. 
But he found, for quite certain, that nothing of the 
kind was preparing, and that all the parts concerned 
are in perfect condition. That the pain was sciatica 
or rheumatism seizing hold of the old parts, because 
specially sensitive, I suppose, after all those happen- 
ings; this was a great relief to know, for otherwise 
my Giffords would have become uncertain. 

Now, as to yourself, Child. I quite see the reason 
for your settling in London it seems to me unanswer- 
able, and that neither your love of the country nor 

H 's dislike of such a move should deter you from 

it. After all, by getting high up and with some open 
space and greenery around you, it need not be 
emphatically towny. 

I at once inquired of Mrs. Stuart-Moore, whom 
I now know well, and who has lived for years on the 
highest part here, in Campden Hill Square. Please, 
Dear, note carefully what she writes in the two notes 
enclosed. The second note is entirely about this 

Letters to a Niece 189 

matter. Pray specially note what I have underlined in 
blue, in the first note. You will see what a warm, kind 
soul she is! Don't want these back, second half of 
first note was too private to send on. 

Hope to write about emotion soon. 

How excellent Lundy Island sounds ! 




My ever darling Gwen-Child, 21 August, 1922. 

What a wonderful place you have struck, for 
genuineness and always vital action and conviction! 
And yet there is also a further fact, to be deeply 
grateful for, that not only you yourself, but the three 
children too, possess tastes so direct and so genuine 
so unspoilt by the "fine" world and by "good" 
society as to respond to it all and deeply to love it! 
Perhaps especially the letter of 18 August, received 
this morning, makes me feel this double gratitude 
for you, all four, very much indeed. Certainly, if such 
a place cannot keep people genuine, no place could! 
You will be able to come back to it all every year, or 
at least often. But to live there entirely would hardly 
do, for any one of you four! 

I am struck with what you say about church of 
people, even there, not going into it to pray out of 
service times. My difficulty about this springs from the 
fact that with us Roman Catholics the frequentation 
of our churches at such times springs, I think, entirely 

190 Baron Von Htige/^s 

or all but entirely, from the Reserved Holy Eucharist, 
and our Devotion to It. I doubt whether we have got 
any more, or any very different, feeling, towards any 
church or chapel of our own where (a rare thing) 
there is no Reservation, than Protestants have towards 
their churches out of service-times. Now, though the 
Reservation of the Holy Eucharist is very old we 
can trace it back well into pre-Constantinian times 
yet the Devotion to the Reserved Holy Eucharist is 
not older in England than about A.D. 1330, and, 
I think, nowhere older than this anywhere. This is 
curious, because the Reservation was always reverent, 
and I know of no documents or facts to indicate that 
the Catholics of all those centuries disbelieved in the 
real Presence of Our Lord at such times (the restric- 
tion of His Presence to the time between the conse- 
cration and the communion is, I believe, a purely 
Protestant notion). The Greek Russian Church, e.g., 
does not have it, but believes (and practises, or rather 
has no active devotion) exactly as Western Christendom 
believed and practised up to A.D. 1330 or so. What 
happened to and in the Catholic churches up to about 
1330? outside of service-times, I mean. I think there 
must have been some praying there in between- whiles; 
yet I doubt whether there was as much as since the 
awakening of the Devotion to the Reserved Holy 
Eucharist. It is this Devotion and Confessions of 
Devotion which have largely built up the Roman 
Catholic saints these last six centuries. Whereas devo- 
tion to the Holy Eucharist at Mass and Communion 
only, and confessions of obligation, which built up the 
Roman Catholic saints in the first thirteen centuries. 
Am so glad to think you are coming to Vicarage 

Letters to a Niece 191 

Gate in September. I am to be in Thursley myself 
(the address on this letter will alone be wanted) till 
7 September for certain; but I am keeping myself 
open to stay on till 14 September or even 21 September 
(at most), in case health still requires it. Yet of course 
I much want to see you at home. Aunt Mary will 
certainly like to see you to have you stay the longer, 
the better. 

Loving Uncle-Father, 

F. v. H. 

Three sets of books, October igss. Two sets are for close 
study; the third set, a single book, is for lighter reading. 
Any one set can be studied, and the lighter book be 
read, at different times of the same day. But only one 
of the harder sets to be studied at the same time, and 
to be finished, before the second set is tackled. 

I. Three books (four volumes) on and oj Aquinas. 

1 . Philip Wicksteed on The Reactions . . . St. Thomas 

A fine book by a lover of Aquinas. But Wicksteed is 
a Unitarian, and hence unperceptive as to revealed 
theology. Pray read twice, all the English parts (that 
is, only the lectures and not the notes), also the Preface 
(pages vii-xvi). 

I would either omit Lecture III. (pages 157-196) 
and the second half of Lecture IV. (pages 260-78) ; 
or I would read it with aloofness and critical awakeness. 

2. St. Thomas, God and His Creatures. 

I would study all carefully, at least once. Pages 
196-235 I would read and re-read, and copy out 
bits; glorious! 

192 Baron Von Hugel's 

3. Aquinas Ethicus, two volumes. 

I would read all at least once; and would carefully 
re-read and browse amongst the parts which specially 
help you. Be patient with your not understanding of 
much at first. 


My darling Gwen-Child, 26 May, 1923. 

Many thanks for prompt loan of this. Have taken 
all the particulars I wanted now; so here it is back. 

There is one thing I much want you to undertake, 
and so to quiet me. Promise you will instantly drop EVERY 
WORD OF DANTE'S "INFERNO." I myself have never 
dared read more than scraps of it. Go to the Paradiso, 
and study this again and again. At first, each canto 
at least three times. 

It would grieve me so if you get repelled by Dante, 
who otherwise could and will become part of your 
food and air your daily food, your daily air. 

I pray daily specially for what you told me of. God 
bless and brace and bear with us all! 

Loving old Fatherly Uncle, 

F. v. H. 

Am mending; but still, bedroom for two or three 
more days. 


My darling Gwen-Child, n July, 1923. 

A matter goes revolving in my head about you, 
which, I think, I had better mention now, since you 

Letters to a Niece 193 

may be acting on it before we meet again next Monday. 
You told me you had promised I did not catch whom 

to read again 5 s last book; and indeed you took 

away my copy for the purpose. I have been feeling 
somewhat cross with anybody who would ask such 
a thing of you, since it doubtless means a wish that 
you may, after all, come to like the book, and you 
may then praise it, to the pleasure of all the author's 
family. And I think you could get yourself to do so, 
or at least to try. I care much for that family and 
wish them every consolation, yet I cannot doubt that 
we none of us ought that we none of us have the 
right to put this kind of pressure upon others. And 
to enter into such an affectionate little plot is, surely, 
not good for one's straightness for that complete 
sincerity which alone gives value and the power to 
produce genuine pleasure to our literary judgments. 
But this point, too I mean the moral point here 
involved is for you to decide upon and follow, not 
for me to impose upon you. I only bring it up because 
you might acquire the habit before you had fully 
made up your mind. 

And so that is thatl It is simply for yourself, Child. 
Perfect simplicity, never forcing the note: this we 
will try and combine with kindliest reserve and 
softening judgments where we can. But not more. 
No court paid to families, etc. 

Old Father, 

F. v. H. 


194 Baron Von Huge/'s 


My darling Child, 22 October, 1923. 

I loved getting your post card this morning some 
two hours ago, and hearing you had had so beautiful 
a Retreat. Of course I am keenly looking forward to 
seeing you when you are back, and when we can hit 
off a day and time to fit us both perhaps next Monday, 
as before. 

But I write because I want, if I can, promptly to 
get quite clear in my old mind a matter that has been 
a bit perplexing me. I have to take gas and have one 
molar out this afternoon; and gas again and another 
molar out some few days hence; and it will be joy 
indeed, if I find that I was simply mistaken in the 
following matter and learn this in between the two 
little woes. 

You see, my Sweet, you used to write to me often 
the oftener the better for me (provided the writing 
came spontaneously to you, without a touch of obligation 
about it}. And I loved getting these letters and learnt 
not a little from them, even though, latterly, I was 
mostly too tired to answer by letter. And then you came 
to Thursley, and I loved our time I felt we had no 
straining, etc., between us. You went off: well, and 
thenceforward, somehow, the letters ceased. A pencil 
note, merely as to health; then, quite shortly ago, a 
joint little letter to Aunt Mary and me this was all 
during nine or ten weeks. But yesterday Hillie came 
and, among other things about other people, told me 
you had found me very tired at Thursley, and had 
felt you ought not, then, to put any questions to me. 
So I have come to think that probably you kept 

Letters to a Niece 195 

silent, also as to letters, for my sake to save me even 
the reading of them. 

This morning's post card is so entirely the darling 
daughter, that I feel Hillie's report must be covering 
all. And so I feel I had better at once explain that 
if you have not written as formerly (I mean as to the 
quantity) on my account, I trust you will promptly drop 
any such notion and practice. Your letters simply 
rest and refresh me. But this, because they feel quite 
unforced, because I feel you to write them simply as 
the bird sings. And so, if you have kept yourself from 
writing, even partly, because of yourself- because it strained 
or hipped or otherwise tried you do not write as formerly 
till this feeling, if God wills, disappears. It has been the 
fear that, by telling you all this, I might put pressure 
upon you, Child, that has kept me so long from saying 
anything. But when this Retreat of yours came and 
went without any account of it, I felt I must, somehow, 
find out. You are, Sweet, a humble soul, and may have 
thought I attached no importance to your letters. If it 
was all for my sake, you might now write me an account 
of the Retreat, still all fresh in your memory. 

Ever loving Uncle-Father, 



My darling Child, All Saints' Eve, 1923. 

Here, for All Saints', is, at last, Elisabeth Leseur's 
Journal for you. Tried to get it ready-bound for you 
but is not to be had like that; and I did not want to 
wait till I had got it bound for you nowadays a long 

196 Baron Von HugeTs 

process. I have got, at same time, a copy of my own 
so we can refer each other to anything we come upon 
we like very much. 

The three little books are simply the remaining 
volumes of the Temple Dante, not yet taken home 
by you. Mind you sometime read the Monarchy in the 
Latin Works volume. 

I loved getting your last %po and National Gallery 
letter. We must talk about all in it on Monday next. 

Have, at last, plunged again into my big book 
composition, which I find turns into a prayer and 
makes me very happy was missing it greatly. But 
this will make all mornings impossible to me for 
anyone even the child I am scribbling this to. 

May we have a very, very deep and dear All Saints' 
the day of all the saints in all times and places and 
disguises so much the most of them known to God 
alone; indeed the day also of the saintly bits, the 
saintly moments, etc., the beginnings of sanctity in 
souls, not otherwise saints at all. 

God be with us. 

Your loving, 



My darling Child, 4 November, 1923. 

Grateful thanks again, for the last interesting letters. 
I could not answer your practical question as to the 
two hours taken by you in that church, at once; and 
even now I can write only by doing so when I ought 
not to do so on Sunday, which works the full rest- 
fulness for me only if I do not break in upon it at all. 

Letters to a Niece 197 

I think your decision wise as far as its interior goes 
that it will not strain you, accustomed and so happy as 
you are to and in long prayer. But is it wise with your 
health to tie yourself down thus to fixed days and 
hours? I wonder. *Tis for you to watch how the 
arrangement works; and if the health really and 
clearly interferes with it, to give it up, I think. 

As to to-morrow, Child, I shall love to see you, as 
always, and shall be sorry if you do not come, as 
always. But I feel as though it would be right for me 
not to accept your not coming if your cold is still at a 
very fountainous stage, since I am specially hopeful just 
now of avoiding grave, deep colds which would 
interfere with my resumed composition work even 
perhaps my getting to our opening meeting of the 
L.S.S.R. at Mr. Montefiore's on Tuesday day after 
to-morrow. But I trust your cold is getting fairly a 
dry one now, in which case, pray, pray, come, Sweet. 
In any case, mind to understand that the cold, in an 
acute condition, is the sole and complete objection to 
your coming. 

I shall, otherwise, so greatly delight over our hour 
after lunch here to-morrow. 

I think Aunt Mary expects you fixedly already; if 
so, please telephone only if you are not coming. 

Loving old Father-Uncle, 


Walter Frerc, Bishop of Truro! Well, I hope and 
believe he will make a very good, because a super- 
naturally-minded, one. 

How grand Elisabeth Leseur is is she not? 


198 Baron Von Hilgel's 


Darling Child, 17 March, 1924. 

This is to dwell for a moment with you in gratitude 
and deepest life- wishes for Olivia seventeen to-day! 
Dear me! Clearly no more a child and yet, please 
God, with something of the child in her to the end! 
She is evidently an honourable, straight character, 
and God's grace and her own freely docile co-operation 
will slowly build up of all for something deep and 

And this wants, too, for a moment, to dwell upon 
your renouncing this Retreat. I wish now I had said 
nothing whatever in criticism of your going thus a 
third time a year to a Retreat. For it is difficult to 
see what precise harm there would be even in four 
such, provided they really brace and soothe you, the 
fact being that they are far more just times of escape 
from racket and to more prayer than usual. And 
again, I did and do see that having you at this Retreat 

would especially please Mrs. ; and this too would 

be a pleasure surely not wrong, this although certainly 
such things ought primarily to be done because we 
ourselves require them. I do not propose your, after 
all, going, because to wobble up and down is never a 
good thing in itself; but if you have still left it half 
open and you still, at bottom, feel that attrait to it 
as just a (third) opportunity for more rest away, and 
prayer, then I incline not to abandon it, but quickly 
settle it up as a thing you are going to do. 

I have written to Mrs. this morning, not about 

this, either way, but full of good will towards her, as 
indeed I ought to be. 

Letters to a Niece 199 

Well, anyhow, to Thursday at one and two much 
talk, Child. 

Loving Fatherly One, 



12 August, 1924. 
My darling Gwen-Child, (Gertrude f 1915.) 

I have been rather pursued by the fear that you 
might not get your cheque in time for such cashing 
of it as you may care to effect before leaving London 
on Thursday; and so, although I am looking forward 
(and much) to seeing you to-morrow (Wednesday), 
I am sending it enclosed to-night so as to reach you 
at home to-morrow (Wednesday, first post). I suppose 
you reach Hanover Terrace to-night; and, in any 
case, this letter will await you safely in your house. 
If you do arrive to-night, you can (if you like) cash 
the cheque in the morning to-morrow. 

I also want to say that I have got St. Bernard's 
Sermons on the Canticle of Canticles, two volumes, for you. 
The volumes are stout but not large, so that I fancy 
you can easily take Volume I. to Lundy, if you like. 
It might be well to begin such a great new book out 

I was so glad all went so well at that interview you 
feared so much in anticipation. I was very pleased to 
get that letter, and now the little one. But how nice 
to be talking together to-morrow. 

Hillie is still away for a little Surrey visit; and Aunt 
Mary may be still away to-morrow. My chair takes 

2OO Baron Von Hilge/'s 

me out from three to five, and I have my tea at five. 
Juliet Mansell has to be at her rehearsals till about 
six-thirty. I should like you to arrive for your tea at 
Jive, and to come down to me at five-thirty. Thus you 
will see Aunt Mary or Hillie, if either of them is back; 
and if you have to be alone with Eva looking after 
you! It will be for only half an hour. 

Nothing in this letter wants an answer till you 
answer me by word of mouth as to the cheque and 
the book. 

Loving Fatherly Uncle, 

F. v. H. 


Sunday, 14 September, 1924. 
My darling Gwen-Child, 

I find Professor Kemp Smith is right, who scolded 
me for dictating him a long letter, for even that day 
it markedly diminished the benefit of my rest. But this 
is the last day of my holiday I hope to begin work 
anew to-morrow, although this persistent wet through- 
out more or less all the six weeks has much limited 
the good derived from the rest. One long letter I could 
not help writing to Sir Archibald Geikie, whose auto- 
biography has been the great delight of my holiday, 
and who will be eighty-nine in December next dear 
warm heart, and pure, still very (mentally) active and 
deeply religious life. 

As to a Jowett's Plato for Richard, I am carefully 
seeking a good, five-volume, copy can well afford it 
for Christmas. When I have got it, I shall give it to 

Letters to a Niece 201 

you, for you to give to him. Say nothing of my inter- 
vention, please. I so love to think you say or imply 
literally nothing when (as so often) this is desirable. 
Hope Aunt Mary's letter has reached you; she told 
me she would write to you. Hillie has been staying 
with Beatrice Thynne. 

Loving Uncle, 















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Large Crown 8vo. 360 pages. 7s. 6d. net 

MR. ALGAR THOROLD has collected in this book the permanent 
quintessence of the Baron's teaching, to which he has prefixed an 
essay on the significance of his religious philosophy. Wide as Von 
HugePs appeal has proved to be, it is probable that it has been to 
some extent limited by the necessarily high price of the original 
works and their occasional obscurity of style. It is hoped that this 
selection will make his work known to the greater public. 



An Abiding Enigma of Life Hellenism, Christianity and Science, all Three Necessary 
to Man The Three Means of Religious Apprehension The Difficulties of Transition 
The Three Constituents of Knowledge The Three Elements in the Great Religions The 
Religious Temper longs for Simplification Science: Brute Fact and Iron Law The Achieve- 
ment of Science The Relations of Science and Religion Christianity, the Revelation of 
Personality and Depth Christianity: Pessimist and Optimist The Scientific Habit and 
Mysticism Social Religion and Mysticism Eternal Life Given in Experience The Sense 
of Eternal Life. 


St. Catherine of Genoa The Marriage of Catherine The Theological Value of Catherine's 
Spirit Sources of Catherine's Doctrine -God and Creation The Sin of Self -Love Catherine 
and Pure Love Catherine's Spiritual Significance The Teaching of Catherine What We 
may Learn from Catherine Catherine's Interpretative Religion Catherine's Fasts 
Catherine and the Plague The Three Categories and the Two Ways The Other Worlds 
Catherine and the Blessed Sacrament Some Peculiarities of Devotion Her General Af ter- 
Life Conceptions Catherine and Eternal Punishment Catherine and Purgatory Catherine 
and Heaven Catherine and Her Disciples Catherine's Death. 


Responsibility and Belief The Inequality of Religious Endowment The Dual Source 
of Difficulties in the Spiritual Life The Social Dynamics of Belief Perfect and Imperfect 
Liberty Religion and Reality The Characteristics of the Object of Religion An Analysis 
of Experience Anti-Religious Psychology The Vivid Dimness of Religious Belief Chris- 
tianity and Suffering The Eschatology of the Gospel Critical Method and Faith Hell 
and Heaven The Christian Idea of Immortality Nature and Supemature The Alternative 
of the Supematurally Awakened Soul Our Lord's Momentous Teaching Asceticism and 
Mysticism The Need of Catholicism To-day The Necessity of the Church The Purification 
of Scientific Discipline Suffering and God. 

5"! know of no other modem English religious utiter who so persuasively 
displays the temper one must describe as Catholic. Of this ideal 
Catholicism we may say that, if ever it were to become actual, the road 
would be straight and smooth towards the reunion in a universal church 
of all men' who in their different ways acknowledge the uniqueness and 
eternal significance of Christ." JOHN MEDDLETON MURRY. 




Cheaper Edition. Medium 8vo. 10s. 6d. net 

The object of this book is to trace out that life which is called 
"mystical" from its earliest appearance within Christianity. 


Crown 8vo. 8s. 6d. net 

This book deals with the essential characteristics, practice, and 
theory of its absorbing subject. In the second part the lives and 
teachings of various mystics are considered in detail. 


Third Edition. Crown 8vo. 3s. 6d. net 

A "little book for normal people" addressed to those who, repelled 
by the length and difficulty of the more elaborate works in mys- 
ticism, would yet like to know what it is, and what it has to offer. 


Cheaper Edition. Medium 8vo. 10s. 6d. net 

A spiritual biography of the thirteenth-century poet and mystic, 
together with a selection from his spiritual songs 'translated from 
the Italian into English verse by Mrs. Theodore Beck. 


Fifth Edition. Square Crown 8vo. 4s. 6d. net 


Second Edition. Square Crown 8vo. 4s. 6d. net 


Translated by Emma Qurney SaZter. Small Crown 8vo. 5s. net 

The Vision of God is the work of a Christian mystic of the fifteenth 
century : a rich and powerful personality, scholar and philosopher, 
churchman and reformer, and above all an expounder of Mys- 
tical Theology. Miss Salter has preceded her translation from the 
Latin by a biographical sketch of Nicholas; and the book is prefaced 
by a clear and searching Introduction by Miss Evelyn Underbill. 



21 319 386 


Letters from Baron 
Frederick von Hugel to 

BX Hugel 

4705 ^Letters from Baron Iriedrich von 

.H85 Hugel to a niece.